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National Briefing / Massachusetts

Harvard scholar arrested at home

July 21, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's most prominent African American scholars, was arrested last week at his home near Harvard University after trying to force open the locked front door.

According to a Cambridge Police Department report, Gates allegedly accused officers of being racist and said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America." The incident was first reported by the Harvard Crimson school newspaper.

Gates, the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, has been away from his home much of the summer while working on a documentary, said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and friend of Gates who is working as his lawyer. Gates returned from China last week and had trouble opening the front door with his key.

Gates, 58, was arrested Thursday by police looking into a possible break-in and accused of disorderly conduct "after exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior" at his home, said the police report.

Officers said they tried to calm down Gates, who responded: "You don't know who you're messing with," according to the police report.

Gates did not return calls to his office Monday, and the police department would provide no further details on the arrest.

Gates was released five hours after his arrest, and arraignment has been scheduled for Aug. 26.

Gates was a MacArthur Fellow in 1981 and was among Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" in 1997.

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