"You're under arrest."
"But it's my house."
"You're under arrest anyway."
America's newest crime: being in a house while black.
BOSTON (July 20) – Police responding to a call about "two black males" breaking into a home near Harvard University ended up arresting the man who lives there — Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation's pre-eminent black scholar.
Gates had forced his way through the front door because it was jammed, his lawyer said. Colleagues call the arrest last Thursday afternoon a clear case of racial profiling.
You've gone out for the evening and forgotten your keys, or maybe the door is stuck, so what do you do?
It's your house, right? So if you have no other choice, you break the door in, or break a (preferably cheap) window and let yourself in.
Then, if you're a black man living in Boston, be prepared to deal with the police, and be careful how you talk to them.
Skip Gates broke into his own house, and when the police showed up he took umbrage, reasoning that he was being targeted for his race. If you're the cop, and you have any sense, what do you say? How about, "Sorry to bother you, sir, but we had to check out the break-in report. I'm glad you were able to get in."
What do these cops do? They arrest him for disorderly conduct.
Gates — the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research — initially refused to show the officer his identification, but then gave him a Harvard University ID card, according to police.
"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," the officer wrote.
He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior." He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26. Police refused to comment on the arrest Monday.
The next time you find yourself wondering if there is still a need for the NAACP after 100 years, remember this story.