Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested in his own home on suspicion of breaking and entering. According to a story from The Washington Post, Gates described his experience as:
part of a “racial narrative” playing out in a biased criminal justice system. Shortly before the charge against him was dropped this afternoon, the Harvard professor who has spent much of his life studying race in America said he has come to feel like a case study.
“There are one million black men in jail in this country and last Thursday I was one of them,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post Tuesday morning. “This is outrageous and that this is how poor black men across the country are treated everyday in the criminal justice system. It’s one thing to write about it, but altogether another to experience it.”
According to the story, a neighbor called the police to report that two Black men were trying to force their way into Gates’s house (he’d had trouble getting the front door open after returning from a trip to China). Even after showing the police his I.D. that included his picture with his home address on it, he was still arrested, placed in handcuffs, taken to the police station, and placed in a jail cell.
According to the article, the experience has inspired his idea for his next PBS documentary:
His next project on race, he said, will be rooted in his arrest. “I hope to make a documentary about racial profiling for PBS,” he said. “[The idea] had never crossed my mind but it has now.”
He said the documentary will ask: “How are people treated when they are arrested? How does the criminal justice system work? How many black and brown men and poor white men are the victims of police officers who are carrying racist thoughts?
An interview with Gates about the experience appears on The Root, a site for which he is the Editor-in-Chief.
The New York Times has a post up with responses from a variety of professionals titled The Gates Case and Racial Profiling.
[h/t to BoingBoing]