Last Thursday, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested outside his own home in Cambridge. A neighbor called police after witnessing “two black males with backpacks on the porch,” with one “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.”
Clearly, this could have happened to anyone. A person forgets his keys, climbs in through a back window. It would be neighborly and helpful for a neighbor to call the authorities to check it out.
What is troubling about this case is the extent to which the Cambridge Police officers continued their line of questioning. Once Gates produced his Harvard identification and driver’s license, the officer continued to question him. To a reasonable citizen, proof of identity–much less residence status–would be enough to back off.
Makes you go hmmm.