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Henry Louis Gates arrested, charges dropped

Here's a disturbing report: Henry Louis Gates Jr., a prominent Harvard scholar of African-American history, was arrested last week at his Cambridge, Mass., home after police were called about a possible break-in.

Today, local officials said the charges would not be pursued, but the whole episode is unsettling for someone who has written several books on the black experience in America. They include Colored People: A Memoir and In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past. He also wrote The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism.

Gates was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct after a confrontation with an officer at his home, according to news reports. Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law professor who is Gates' lawyer in the case, told CNN today that Gates had returned from China on Thursday to his home and discovered his front door jammed. He opened his back door with his key and tried unsuccessfully from inside his home to open the front door.

That's when a police officer appeared and asked Gates for identiffication. Gates apparently balked at being questioned about his own home, and it all spiraled out of control from there.

Update 7/23: Here is the officer's arrest report, which sheds more light on the incident.

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