Next month marks the one year anniversary of the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis (Skip) Gates in his own home in Cambridge, Ma., and President Obama’s subsequent “beer summit” with Gates and arresting officer James Crowley. In a new book on the case, Gates’ attorney, Harvard law Prof. Charles Ogletree, concludes that the U.S. has “a long way to go to address the issue of racial justice, particularly in the criminal justice system.” In “The Presumption of Guilt,” Ogletree says the U.S. has learned little about the issue since the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles led to riots. He spoke about the book yesterday at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington.
“In the cases of both Rodney King and Professor Gates, the police could have found other ways to handle the situation,” Ogletree says. Ogletree was a mentor of Obama at Harvard Law School. In the book, he acknowledges criticism that Obama should have done more as president about the problem of racial profiling. Ogletree says that issue “is worthy of further discussion.” Ogletree devotes more than 100 pages of the book to stories of blacks who believe they have been victims of racial profiling. Among them: Attorney General Eric Holder, who said he was stopped while driving from New York City to Washington, D.C., by a police officer who wanted to check his trunk for weapons. The incident left Holder humiliated and angry.