Boston Globe Scrubs Henry Louis Gates Arrest Report From Website

July 23rd, 2009 7:45 AM

(UPDATE: The Boston Globe has now posted what it calls a redacted revised docket although it is described as a "police report" at the left side link on its site. And redacted it certainly is since it has redacted out almost the entire narrative section of the original report. To read the full highly revealing narrative, check out the original police report.)

A little tip for anyone who gets stopped by a police officer for a possible traffic violation. Be polite. Very polite. Even if you think you were wrongly stopped, do not under any circumstances start yelling at the police officer. Follow this advice and your chances of being given a traffic ticket, instead of just a warning, go way down. The same applies for any encounter with a police officer because the surest way to get yourself arrested is to act arrogantly and aggressively when questioned. Whatever you do, do not act like the arrestee in the Henry Louis Gates police report.

That Cambridge, MA police report presents such a damning picture of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates when he was arrested that an embarrassed Boston Globe felt it had to scrub it from its website after initially posting the report. The Globe published an article about the Gates arrest written by Tracy Jan which does refer to the police report but, unfortunately, you can no longer read the full report on the Boston Globe site since it has been removed by that newspaper. Here are a couple of Boston Globe excerpts that do refer to the deleted police report:

He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had "no idea who he was messing with,'' the report said.

...The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. "It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest,'' the officer wrote in the report.

The lack of the full police report, which was scrubbed by the Globe, was the subject of this comment from a skeptical reader:

Be nice if the Globe actually printed the arrest report. A bit of a different story, I bet. I bet my life on it. 

Well, the Globe did print the arrest report...and then removed it. And you're right, it was a bit of a different story as a Damian Thompson blog in the U.K. Telegraph noted:

The top American black scholar Henry Louis Gates has been arrested after accusing police officers of “racism” when they demanded that he prove his identity in his own home near Harvard. Sounds shocking, doesn’t it?

The Boston Globe has an account of this complicated incident, which seems to have begun when the professor locked himself out of his house. It portrays Gates as the injured party, handcuffed and taken into custody for (Gates implies) the crime of being a black man.

Hmm. The self-important Gates, who runs Harvard’s African-American research centre, has never been slow to allege racism. And the fact that he now faces a charge of disorderly conduct is presented by his supporters as proof of police discrimination.

I won’t comment, except to say: read the police report, which the Globe supplies here in pdf format. [Not any longer, it seems.] It’s absolutely fascinating. It doesn’t just depict Gates playing the race card; it describes him flinging a whole pack of 52 race cards at the officers. And it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

However, if you click to the Boston Globe link to read the police report,  you get a "Page Not Found" message which was noted in an update to the blog:

Update: the police report describing Gates’s hysterical behaviour has apparently disappeared from the Boston Globe site. Strange, don’t you think?

Strange, perhaps, but not really surprising since, despite the assertion yesterday by President Barack Obama that the Cambridge police department acted "stupidly," one might think differently after reading the full police report. Here are a few excerpts from the report by arresting officer, James Crowley:

On Thursday July 16, 2009, Henry Gates, Jr. - -, of Ware Street, Cambridge, MA) was placed under arrest at Ware Street, after being observed exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior, in a public place, directed at a uniformed police officer who was present investigating a report of a crime in progress. These actions on the behalf of Gates served no legitimate purpose and caused citizens passing by this location to stop and take notice while appearing surprised and alarmed.

...When I arrived at Ware Street I radioed ECC and asked that they have the caller meet me at the front door to this residence. I was told that the caller was already outside. As I was getting this information, I climbed the porch stairs toward the front door. As [reached the door, a female voice called out to me. I looked in the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified {} who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, held a wireless telephone in her hand arid told me that it was she who called. She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of• Ware Street. She told me that her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry. Since I was the only police officer on location and had my back to the front door as I spoke with her, I asked that she wait for other responding officers while I investigated further.

As I turned and faced the door, I could see an older black male standing in the foyer of {} Ware Street. I made this observation through the glass paned front door. As I stood in plain view of this man, later identified as Gates, I asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied “no I will not”. He then demanded to know who I was. I told him that I was “Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police” and that I was “investigating a report of a break in progress” at the residence. While I was making this statement, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed “why, because I’m a black man in America?”. I then asked Gates if there was anyone else in the residence. While yelling, he told me that it was none of my business and accused me of being a racist police officer. I assured Gates that I was responding to a citizen’s call to the Cambridge Police and that the caller was outside as we spoke. Gates seemed to ignore me and picked up a cordless telephone and dialed an unknown telephone number. As he did so, I radioed on channel I that I was off in the residence with someone who appeared to be a resident but very uncooperative. I then overheard Gates asking the person on the other end of his telephone call to “get the chief’ and “whats the chiefs name?’. Gates was telling the person on the other end of the call that he was dealing with a racist police officer in his home. Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was “messing” with and that I had not heard the last of it. While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me. I asked Gates to provide me with photo identification so that I could verify that he resided at Ware Street and so that I could radio my findings to ECC. Gates initially refused, demanding that I show him identification but then did supply me with a Harvard University identification card. Upon learning that Gates was affiliated with Harvard, I radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University Police.

With the Harvard University identification in hand, I radioed my findings to ECC on channel two and prepared to leave. Gates again asked for my name which I began to provide. Gates began to yell over my spoken words by accusing me of being a racist police officer and leveling threats that he wasn’t someone to mess with. At some point during this exchange, I became aware that Off. Carlos Figueroa was standing behind me. When Gates asked a third time for my name, I explained to him that I had provided it at his request two separate times. Gates continued to yell at me. I told Gates that I was leaving his residence and that if he had any other questions regarding the matter, I would speak with him outside of the residence.

As I began walking through the foyer toward the front door, I could hear Gates agai,n demanding my name. I again told Gates that I would speak with him outside. My reason for wanting to leave the residence was that Gates was yelling very loud and the acoustics of the kitchen and foyer were making it difficult for me to transmit pertinent information to ECC or other responding units. His reply was “ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside”. When I left the residence, I noted that there were several Cambridge and Harvard University police officers assembled on the sidewalk in front of the residence. Additionally, the caller, md at least seven unidentified passers-by were looking in the direction of Gates, who had followed me outside of the residence.

As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him. Due to the tumultuous manner Gates had exhibited in his residence as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both the police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates’s outburst. For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest. I then stepped up the stairs, onto the porch and attempted to place handcuffs on Gates. Gates initially resisted my attempt to handcuff him, yelling that he was “disabled” and would fall without his cane. After the handcuffs were property applied, Gates complained that they were too tight. I ordered Off. Ivey, who was among the responding officers, to handcuff Gates with his arms in front of him for his comfort while I secured a cane for Gates from within the residence. I then asked Gates if he would like an officer to take possession of his house key and secure his front door, which he left wide open. Gates told me that the door was un securable due to a previous break attempt at the residence. Shortly thereafter, a Harvard University maintenance person arrived on scene and appeared familiar with Gates. I asked Gates if he was comfortable with this Harvard University maintenance person securing his residence. He told me that he was.

Not a very pretty picture of the highly abusive Gates was painted here. And this is probably why the Boston Globe felt it had to remove the police report from its website.