By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Charges against Gates to be dropped

WHDH-TV (Channel 7) reports that charges against Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates will be dropped. Meanwhile, the Cambridge Chronicle notes that’s copy of the arrest report has gone missing.

Update: has reposted (PDF) some of the arrest report, but there’s less now than there was yesterday. The Cambridge Chronicle has a longer version here.

Correction: I wrote yesterday that Gates had apparently locked himself out of his house. As is now clear, that wasn’t the case — his door was jammed.

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  1. Treg

    The Channel 7 report linked here says Gates was arrested *while* attempting to force the front door of his house open. That's not what the arrest report said.

  2. Bob F

    While race may have played a factor, and I hope it did not, it sounds like it may have been the person who called the police, if anyone, who had the racist perspective. The cop certainly had a duty to ensure that this was not a break-in. If indeed Mr. Gates followed the cop back out the door and started mouthing off, there are thousands of punks, adults, and otherwise innocent citizens who would have been equally charged.. in my opinion. I didn't hear anyone claim the officer used a racial slur or anything. I'm not sure that had Mr. Gates been a white man the cop would have done anything differently. Race may have played more of a part in Mr. Gates perspective than the cop's, which might be understandable. But then, that would be unfortunate since the national news is all over this matter making "us" look look like the stereotypical racist city that we may not always be. "They're all racists" is just as unfair to us as if we were. Therefore, the claim, if actually untrue, and really just Mr. Gates' perspective, actually serves to advance a stereotype, that Mr. Gates and many of us wish didn't exist to the degree it may. I dunno.

  3. Treg

    Race need not be a factor at all for us to conclude that the police acted improperly. Which I'm inclined to conclude they did.

  4. Treg

    It looks to me like what really got Gates in trouble was asking the officer to identify himself. Which it appears the officer attempted to avoid doing. He couldn't provide proper ID inside the house because of the acoustics?If a cop entered my house without my permission, refused to provide identification, and then turned and walked out and invited me to step outside, I'd get pretty mad, too.

  5. Bob F

    True.. but if not for race, or the claim thereof, this wouldn't be a national story.

  6. O-FISH-L

    This is complete and total victory for the Cambridge Police Department. Congratulations, officers.Dismissal of a first offense disturbing the peace case is the norm, that's why I predicted it here last night. What's important is that probable cause was found (must be prior to arraignment) and that's an absolute defense to a charge of false arrest.What is abnormal is a Harvard "scholar" accusing the police of racism. Gates has a duty to himself and the black community to file a tab (citizen's complaint of police misconduct) and a federal lawsuit, so that his allegations can be tested. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Personally, I can't wait!Lastly, I hope Sergeant Crowley has not waived any of his legal rights to file a defamation lawsuit. His name is forever sullied, and wrongfully so at that. I would hope that he's already been on the phone with Atty. Ted Williams, the black former D.C. Homicide Detective. Nobody knows police racism better than a black cop, and it would be terrific to have Williams telling the jury this isn't one of those cases. If Judge Murphy can get $3M, I see Sgt. Crowley, with the deep pockets of Gates, Harvard and Sharpton, collecting $8-10M.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Bob: If not for race, it's highly unlikely that anyone would have called the police in the first place. Initially the police were just doing their job, but it appears they overreacted to Gates' unfortunate though perfectly understandable outburst.

  8. Bob F

    True Dan, which I mention in the first sentence in my initial post. And that is my point, that race may have been a factor, but what makes tghis national news is the racism charge is linked to the cop, not the neighbor. Unfortunate either way.

  9. Treg

    Oafish – why put "scholar" in quotes? Are you suggesting Gates is not a bona fide scholar?

  10. Bob F

    On second thought, are you sure we're not assuming that the neighbor wouldn't have called the police while seeing two men break down the door of their neighbor's house, REGARDLESS of their race? Is it possible that the ONLY one who contemplated race as an aspect to this entire situation was Mr. Gates himself? I'm not saying that's the case, but. We dont even know if the neighbor even saw the color of their skin.

  11. O-FISH-L

    Dan, again, nonsense. Are you really saying that this noble citizen 911 caller is a racist, and would have ignored a felony in progress if the suspect's were white? Hogwash!We have spent billions on McGruff, Neighborhood Watch and more recently on "See Something, Say Something." This woman should be honored with a key to the city for behaving like we should want all citizens to behave.Your smugness and quantum leap to racism only serves to perpetuate the troubling, "I don't want to get involved" attitude that is the seedcorn of criminal activity. ps — Isn't there some irony in a "scholar" (of any race) being locked out of his house and having to break in? I couldn't help recall the 1980's era Gary Larson classic "Far Side" panel of a student struggling to enter the "School for the Gifted" while pushing the door when the sign clearly said "pull."

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: I have not called anyone a racist.

  13. O-FISH-L

    Treg, I put scholar in quotes because I don't know exactly what it means to be "the nation's pre-eminent black scholar."Who has determined that, and what are the standards? Is there a test or some other evaluation process or is this just a label that some other "scholars" slap on each other? Self-praise is no praise, as the saying goes. We have scholarly blacks in the White House, State House, Supreme Court, hospitals, universities, etc., etc. Who made this guy the "pre-eminent" one? Spare – He gets an F from me for advanced planning. It's 2009, hide-a-key devices abound, even fake rocks and other natural looking things where a key can be hidden can be had for pennies on the dollar. I guess he was too busy becoming a scholar to think of one.

  14. O-FISH-L

    Whenever an issue was in dispute, retired WBZ talk great Bob Raleigh would say, "If I ask 50 people coming up from Park Street Under (MBTA station), what would their opinion be?" I'll take my chances that all 50 commuters would say that this is you labeling the 911 caller a racist.Dan Kennedy said… Bob: If not for race, it's highly unlikely that anyone would have called the police in the first place.

  15. InsiderNegot

    We will know more when, and if, we hear from Gates. His lawyer is quoted as saying Gates presented a Harvard ID and Driver's License. Police report only notes Harvard ID.The officer also reports that he was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence but wanted verification, which he got reluctantly from Gates. It seems to me that should have been the end of it?This is a national story not soley because of race, but because of race and the high profile personality of Gates.

  16. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Since you know I haven't called anyone a racist in this incident, you rely instead on what you think a retired talk-show host might have said. Got it.

  17. mike_b1

    A key to the city for not being able to recognize her own neighbor?Sounds like she needs a new pair of specs.

  18. insiderNegot

    By the way, Chris on Cantabrigia Blogs that still has the Police report:It’s still there under an earlier and strangely named URL:'ll see for how long.

  19. bostonmediawatch

    "This is complete and total victory for the Cambridge Police Department. Congratulations, officers."I'm sure Sgt. Crowley will be return to a TUMULTUOUS welcome."I see Sgt. Crowley, with the deep pockets of Gates, Harvard and Sharpton, collecting $8-10M."You talkin' 'bout "Crowbar" Crowley?

  20. Treg

    Oafish – maybe you should be a scholar and read the news reports. He didn't lose his key – the door was stuck. He entered the house through the back door, turned off the alarm, then resumed trying to get the front door to open, which he succeeded in doing.As for his status as a scholar – you can't get any higher on the faculty ladder at Harvard. He is one of only 20 University Professors. I.e., he's way smarter than you, or me.

  21. Ryan

    Nice try, Oafish, but you didn't put "nation's preeminent" in quotes — you put "scholar" in quotes, and that's what Treg asked you to explain. Still waiting for a non-BS answer. Anyone who's a professor at any university is a scholar — that's a no-brainer. So why call it into question? One might be tempted to guess you're biased against Gates…And your hide-a-key business is stupid — his door was *jammed*. he hadn't lost his key. I wouldn't be questioning the brainy credentials of other people if I couldn't grasp the simple facts of the story…

  22. rozzie02131

    I don't know enough about this to point fingers, and I'd say that's true for most of the comment writers I've read. I would say that if I were seen trying to force my own house door open, I'd be grateful if a neighbor called the police trying to prevent a break-in. Race has nothing to do with that.And, if the cops showed up while I was trying to "break in" to my own house, I'd fully expect to be treated with suspicion and I would again be thankful they were doing so. But – I'd expect the cops to give me a chance to prove my identity and address, and once that happened, I'd expect them to go away fairly quickly. I wouldn't expect them to go inside either, invited or not. I say this as a white guy, but I don't think that should make any difference in any of this.

  23. Steve

    Dan: "If not for race, it's highly unlikely that anyone would have called the police in the first place."I'm not so sure about that. Recently, my neighbors (who are new and I don't know well) were away for a couple of weeks. If I had seen someone working to get in their front door, and if I didn't immediately recognize them, I probably would have called the police instead of confronting them myself. And I hope they would do the same for me.If I was in error, I would have apologized for not recognizing them.

  24. Don, American

    The neighbors called the police? What did they see that was so unusual about a black man being on the porch of a house owned by a black man? Good God, look before you leap.Detained, maybe. Questioned, of course. Arrested. . . overreaction.

  25. Treg

    The report now up on isn't just a shorter, it's different.

  26. O-FISH-L

    The critics bashing me for labeling the situation as a lock-out should redirect their anger at our esteemed host, who published this yesterday on this very blog. Same remains unmodified, but with Sharpton's PR machine involved, I'm not surprised that the story is changing elsewhere. Pardon me for relying on information put forth by our own Prof. Dan 3:41 pm, Dan Kennedy wrote: "Apparently Gates had locked himself out of his own home and was upset and frustrated."—As for Gates qualifying for the title scholar, I will let his own actions speak for themselves. When the lawsuit and citizen's complaint of police misconduct aren't filed, the anti-intellectual slang "egghead" will need to be changed to "egg (on) face."

  27. lkcape

    The stereotype being reinforced here is the one who hurts his chin because his knee reacts so quickly.Mr. Gates qualifies as one with a hurting chin, as does, unfortunately, Dan.

  28. Ryan

    As for Gates qualifying for the title scholar, I will let his own actions speak for themselves.Which is to say you can't actually articulate a justification for implying (by putting "scholar" in quotes) that a black man having a higher education and prestigious job is some kind of ironic joke.

  29. O-FISH-L

    Inside baseball: There are certain people and addresses in every community that automatically trigger a "two cruiser response" for seemingly minor incidents that would normally require only one officer. In the computer aided dispatch age, these addresses and names are now flagged automatically, usually per order of the Chief.This could be anything from the recently released psych patient prone to delusions, the neighbors with the competing lawsuits arguing about a fence, or even the recent divorcee badge-bunny who likes to call the police for trivial matters, then answers the door wearing nothing but high heels and a see-thru negligée. In these cases, it isn't the extra manpower that's needed, but an extra set of eyes and ears to witness everything that goes on, in case allegations are made later. Two cruisers are also used when police are called to deal with a person with a penchant for false allegations of police misconduct. I'm incredibly curious if Cambridge PD and Harvard University Police have yet flagged Gates and his address as a "two cruiser response" yet. I hope the President of the Patrol Officers union is demanding it.

  30. mike_b1

    I suppose that's the type of life you can expect by being black in Milton.Cambridge is north of Boston's Mason-Dixon line, however, and generally thought of as being somewhat less Dixie-brained.

  31. O-FISH-L

    Milton? Another black intellectual liked that town so much after arriving for free, private boarding school that he came back after college and raised a family there. Then he became Governor. —Ryan, as for Gates being a scholar, I stand corrected after reading the police report. The already lofty standard for American intellectualism has been raised yet again with this pearl. "Ya, I'll speak with your mama outside." Forget American, that's of international acclaim. Bill Shakespeare, you may sit down now.

  32. richkyoung

    Found the following column by Glenn Birkins of Qcitymetro to bring a unique and tempered perspective to this story. is an independent online news source based in Charlotte, N.C. Our mission is to be the leading source of news, opinion and other information relevant to the region's thriving African American community.

  33. lkcape

    That is an interesting take.It brings to mind the conversation here recently about academic credentials not necessarily equating to smart.Mr. Gates exhibited serious lack of judgment. Not exactly smart!But hey, he, like Al Sharpton, has made his name on racial issues.One wonders who the racist really is….

  34. mike_b1

    I suppose Patrick figured the only way he could ensure not being dragged out of his own house by the cops was to become their ultimate master.

  35. Treg

    Fish and lk – you guys actually think it's funny that a great man was treated this way on his own property. Don't you.Neither one of you is worthy of licking his boots.

  36. Treg

    Gates says police report inaccurate, demands

  37. Treg

    There's also an audio file of Gates on the phone at the home page. Gates says Crowley refused to give his name, and intentionally lured him out of the house by not stating his name so that he could arrest Gates outside the house.

  38. lkcape

    No, I don't think it is funny. I think it is ironic that a man who has made his claim to fame on the back of racism is suddenly so uncomfortable with himself that he exposes HIS racist tendencies.If anything, it is a sad commentary as to how far Mr. Gates…and his apoligists…need to go to before THEY are willing to accept Rev. King's thoughts on the strength's of a man's character.That IS, after all, the goal, is it not?

  39. mike_b1

    lkcape, Based on all the reports except for one very biased cop's, you're apparently wrong.

  40. Ryan

    Color me shocked that a person with "inside baseball" knowledge of police procedure and whose screen name is a homophone of "official" sides with the authorities.Sad that even in the hometown of liberty there's some people who'll reflexively take the side of the guys with guns and uniforms claiming a right to enter the home of a law-abiding civilian uninvited. But he's black and educated so that makes it OK!

  41. mike_b1

    Ryan wrote "But he's black and educated so that makes it OK!"Imagine if he weren't. He'd still be rotting in jail, trotted out as a suspect in front of everyone who'd been robbed or raped in the past two years.And if he lived in Texas, he'd be on death row.

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