Review of Harvard Scholar's Arrest Cites Failure to Communicate

Historians in the News

A new review of the arrest of a prominent scholar in black studies at his own home last July blames the incident on "failed communications" between the police officer and the scholar.

The arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., a professor at Harvard University, triggered a national controversy about race relations because Mr. Gates, is African-American and the arresting officer is white. The review panel, convened by the police department of Cambridge, Mass., and made up of experts in criminal justice, law, community relations, and conflict resolution, goes on to suggest dialogue to be used in such situations to keep them from spinning out of control.

The review, released on Wednesday, covers the arrest of Mr. Gates by a police sergeant, James Crowley, at Mr. Gates's home while the officer was investigating a report of a break-in there. The arresting charge of disorderly conduct against Mr. Gates was quickly dropped. Yet the controversy over the arrest intensified when President Obama, a friend of the professor's, publicly rebuked the police officer....
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