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Charge Against Gates To Be Dropped

By Peter F. Zhu, Crimson Staff Writer

The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department have recommended to the Middlesex District Attorney that the disorderly conduct charge against Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. be dropped, according to a joint press release.

The District Attorney's office has agreed to no longer pursue the case, the statement said.

"The City of Cambridge, the Cambridge Police Department, and Professor Gates acknowledge that the incident of July 16, 2009 was regrettable and unfortunate," the statement said. "This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances."

Gates, who was returning to Cambridge on Thursday after a trip to China, reportedly had difficulty opening his jammed front door and forced his way into his home with the help of his car driver. A woman reportedly saw the professor and alerted police to a possible break-in attempt. When officers arrived, the situation escalated, with Gates accusing police of racial profiling, according to police reports.

But according to law school Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., who is serving as Gates' representative, Gates cooperated with police, providing both his Harvard identification and driver's license. Ogletree said police nevertheless arrested Gates when he stepped out onto his porch to ask for the officer's name and badge number.

Sergeant James DeFrancesco of the Cambridge Police declined to say whether the agreement represented any sort of admission of wrongdoing, or if there was a plea made, and said that police would have no further comment on the matter beyond the statement issued.

Gates, who served as chair of the department of African and African American studies from 1991 to 2006, earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Cambridge after completing his undergraduate studies in history summa cum laude at Yale. Gates was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 1981 and was named one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" in 1997.

He is one of roughly 20 Harvard faculty members who hold prestigious University professorships, which are given to honor academic achievements that cross disciplinary boundaries.

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at

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