Henry Louis Gates, Jr. releases statement through Charles Ogletree

Here is a statement released by Charles Olgletree who has been retained by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. after he was arrested at his Cambridge Massachusettes home. This information was posted at theroot.com and distributed.

Statement on Behalf of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — by Charles Ogletree

This brief statement is being submitted on behalf of my client, friend, and colleague, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This is a statement concerning the arrest of Professor Gates. On July 16th, 2009, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University, was headed from Logan airport to his home [in] Cambridge after spending a week in China, where he was filming his new PBS documentary entitled “Faces of America”.

Professor Gates was driven to his home by a driver for a local car company. Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates’s luggage into his home.

Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there.

The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard.

Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates’s photograph, and the license includes his address.

Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’s request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’s home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates.

As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.

Professor Gates was taken to the Cambridge Police Station where he remained for approximately 4 hours before being released that evening. Professor Gates’s counsel has been cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorneys Office, and the City of Cambridge, and is hopeful that this matter will be resolved promptly. Professor Gates will not be making any other statements concerning this matter at this time.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard Professor, Arrested At His Cambridge Home

Hat tip to Baratunde Thurston for the heads up on this story.  Baratunde writes as a post alerting of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates being arrested at his home in Cambridge, Massachusettes by police investigating a possible break in.

According to Huffington Post, a woman called Cambridge police out to the neighborhood when she reported that someone was trying to pry open the door to Gates’ home.  HuffPo says officers asked Gates to identify himself, and took him away in handcuffs after he refused to do so.

Gates has retained the services fellow Harvard professor Charles Ogletree, to serve as his lawyer.  Not good Cambridge.

Pat Buchanan: “This has been a country built basically by white folks”

Watch the video and read Pam House Blend’s take.  I have nothing to say about Pat Buchanan’s take on judge Sotomayor…..O.K. one thing. The reason Pat Buchanan gets paid by MSNBC is because he is a white conservative male. That’s affirmative action by his definition. But by the real definition, it’s not because he’s not qualified. That’s enough of him.

Martellus Bennett Black Olympics Video: It’s not worth it bro.

Let me start by saying this: I like fried chicken, I like Kool Aid, I like Watermelon.

Now, when I first heard about Martellus Bennett’s (aka Marty B) Black Olympics video on YouTube, I kind of brushed it aside.  As a fellow Texas A&M alum, I have followed Bennett since he shocked everyone by signing a letter of intent to play Tight End for the Aggies, so I knew he had an interesting sense of humor.

It wasn’t the first time Bennett has been in trouble for his YouTube exploits, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last.  So after listening to talk about the video on the radio, I pulled up Marty BTV to take a look at what all the fuss was about.

Chicken eating contest, not too bad.  Kool Aid drinking contest, still watching.  But it was something about watching two grown African-American men have a watermelon eating contest that was just a little too much to handle.

I checked out Jean Jacques Taylor’s column today in regards to Bennett, and I thought it was a little heavy.  Martellus was born March 10, 1985, which was already 30 years removed from the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  To expect him to think of the Civil Rights struggle while making a video on his Mac Notebook is a bit much

What I thought was funny when I was 22 is a lot different than what I think is funny today.  And thank God we didn’t have video cameras to catch all of the ridiculous things we used to do back in the day.  At 22, I was still in College Station kicking it with my frat brothers, being young and dumb.

It looks a little funny though seeing a guy  with a million dollars having a chicken eating contest in the kitchen with his brother.  But poor decisions is a hallmark of youth regardless of how much money you have.

Martellus Bennett likes to have fun, he likes to laugh.  It gets him in trouble with the Cowboys on the field and it’s getting him in trouble off the field.  When you are 22 years old, one of the hardest lessons to learn is the impact that your actions (positive and negative) can have on others.  It’s even harder learning how to pull back when you feel like you are right.

Bennett is having a good time, but he is also hurting his career.  Catching 15 touchdowns next year will help his career more than this YouTube could ever hurt him, but sometimes in sports players need the benefit of the doubt.  That’s what I hope Marty B’s people are telling him.  That if and when he truly makes a mistake, there may not be enough goodwill left with coaches, teammates and fans to get him through it.

For the critics, the line here is very, very thin.  If you come out strong against this video then I hope you don’t own Season 1 & 2 of the Chappell Show.  The standards for what’s racist and what’s funny are often levied arbitrarily.


Lisa Lampanelli: Hot Chocolate
Joke of the Day Stand-Up Comedy Free Online Games

Who can say what when?  Lisa Lampenelli say she can’t believe 82 black guys have a job but Don Imus can’t say….well naw, Don Imus can’t say what he said.  But you get where I’m going.

It’s a slippery slope, and what it comes down to in the end is what’s funny and what’s not.  Borat was funny, Bruno is not.  Because Bruno was not funny then the racist/bigoted humor comes off as…well…racist and bigoted.

I would suspect that Bennett is going to keep doing his thing.  If you take the time to watch a few more of the videos on Marty BTV you see it’s just a few guys literally riffing, tripping, and being corny.  I’m not going to give him a history lesson, but from one Aggie to another I’d say think about whether it’s worth all the trouble before you shoot your next production.

If you want to fly under the radar, change your jersey number in support of Darfur like Tracy McGrady did.  The media could care less about that.

Black Children kicked out of Philadelphia area pool for fear they may “Change the Complexion”

Looks like a Pennsylvania Summer Camp group may have fallen victim to civil rights era discrimination when they wanted to go for a swim recently.  According to Philadelphia’s NBC Television affiliate, a group of African-American summer campers were prohibited from going to a private pool they had already paid to use.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.

Here’s some of the story as it appears online.

  • “I heard this lady, she was like, ‘Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?’ She’s like, ‘I’m scared they might do something to my child,'” said camper Dymire Baylor.
  • The Creative Steps Day Camp paid more than $1900 to The Valley Swim Club. The Valley Swim Club is a private club that advertises open membership. But the campers’ first visit to the pool suggested otherwise.
  • “When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool,” Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. “The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately.”

And what was the reason given for being turned around?  “There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club,” John Duesler, President of The Valley Swim Club said in a statement.

Hat tip to Carmen D. of All About Race who sent this story out on Twitter.

Ryan Grim’s “This is Your Country on Drugs” looks at the Iran-Contra scandal and black community

I met Ryan Grim online back in 2007 when he was with Politico and have kept in touch with him over the years.  I was excited to learn about his new book that I’m hoping to get my hands sometime soon.  It’s titled This is Your Country on Drugs.  I hope to get an interview with Ryan after I read through his book, but until then, I’ll post a few of excepts that appeared at The Root.

  • In the summer of 1996, the San Jose Mercury News broke the story of the connection between L.A. crack dealers and the U.S. funded Nicaraguan Contras. More than a month later, the Washington Post weighed in with a five-story, roughly 10,000-word broadside that ripped the series apart, debunking its central tenets and wondering aloud what it is about black people that makes them so paranoid.


  • The Post’s editorial board explained that “the shock of the story for many was not simply the sheer monstrousness of the idea of an official agency contributing to a modern-day plague—and to a plague targeted on blacks. The shock was the credibility the story seems to have generated when it reached some parts of the black community.”But it wasn’t their fault they were so gullible, the Postassured in a separate piece, blaming a “history of victimization” that had led to “outright paranoia.”
  • The Post’s longtime Central American correspondent, Douglas Farah, was in El Salvador when the story, written by the Mercury News’ Gary Webb, broke, revealing that the Contras, a confederation of paramilitary rebels sponsored by the CIA, had been funding some of their operations by importing cocaine into the United States. One of their best customers was a man named Freeway Rick—Ricky Donnell Ross—then a Southern California dealer who was running an operation that the Los Angeles Times dubbed “the Wal-Mart of crack dealing.”
  • “My first thought was, ‘Holy shit!’ because there’d been so many rumors in the region of this going on,” Farah said when I interviewed him for a book on the history of drugs in America 12 years later. “There had always been these stories floating around about [the Contras and] cocaine. I knew [Contra leader] Adolfo Calero and some of the other folks there, and they were all sleazebags. You wouldn’t read the story and say, ‘Oh my god, these guys would never do that.’ It was more like, ‘Oh, one more dirty thing they were doing.’ So I took it seriously.”

Read the rest of Ryan’s Black, Paranoid and Absolutely Right at TheRoot.com

Kristin: Supreme Court agrees with New Haven 20


The Supreme Court has decided to reverse a decision made by the U.S. Court of Appeals which included Judge Sonia Sotomayor. I have yet to read the entire ruling but I find myself wondering about the ramifications the ruling will have on the New Haven community. It is my understanding that New Haven is predominately a minority community and will now be served by few minorities in positions of authority. I know of many people who came from areas where authority figures did not look like them. I know first hand how feelings of mistrust will pervade the neighborhood and do very little to bridge a widening gulf.

After reading the original ruling I agreed with the ruling in which Judge Areterton arrived. I can say with all honesty I am happy the New Haven 20 will receive the promotions they deserve. I will also say I am very apprehensive about the future of affirmative action.

It is my personal belief that though we have come along way affirmative action is very much needed to ensure a diverse environment,especially on college campuses. For many minorities affirmative action is our Legacy admission. It will be interseting to see how this affects Sotomayor’s confirmation I am of the opinion that it will matter little. Judge Souter whom she would replace agreed with her ruling.

It is undeniable to me that Sotomayor is right in respects that the bench is were policy is made. The supreme court basically laid forth a new policy that will have far reaching effects for the future. Exactly what those outcomes are remains to be seen.

James Rucker, Color of Change: The Jena 6 are Free, How we made it Possible

I wanted to share the contents of an email sent out by Color of Change Director of Grassroots Mobilization, James Rucker, to their massive member list regarding the plea of “No Contest” by the defendants in the “Jena 6” case late last week. Color of Change was at the forefront of the internet movement to secure justice for the young men back in 2007.

I’ve had a chance to correspond with James and meet some of the Color of Change staff.  They are utilizing 21st century tools to combat injustices that have persisted for generations.  It’s cool to see that they haven’t just rested on their involvement in Hurricane Katrina justice and with the Jena 6, but continue to stay engaged, even taking the fight to Fox News.  They remain relevant and functional as many such organizations have the tendency to fall off into the abyss of irrelevancy.  Kudos to C of C.

Dear Shawn,

Friday, nearly two years after more than 320,000 of you stood up to protect them from Jim Crow justice, the Jena 6–Jesse Ray Beard, Carwin Jones, Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Bryant Purvis and Mychal Bell–are all now free to move ahead with their lives. We should all be proud.

The five remaining Jena 6 cases were brought to conclusion on Friday1 when Jesse Ray, Carwin, Robert, Theo, and Bryant pleaded “no contest” to misdemeanor simple battery charges.2 They will spend no time in jail, serve seven days of probation, and pay relatively minor fines and court fees.

It’s an incredible outcome given that the young men were originally charged with attempted murder in small-town Louisiana and had neither the funds nor the connections to get high-quality representation or attention for their cases.

Luckily for the Jena 6, hundreds of thousands of you got involved, and the power of your participation changed the game. An amazing team of lawyers worked tirelessly to achieve Friday’s outcome. Our staff helped recruit them, and your financial contributions–over $275,000–provided the bulk of the funds for their work. Jim Boren, the coordinating attorney, said this about ColorOfChange members’ contribution: “None of this would have happened without you.”

But it wasn’t just lawyers and money. Over 300,000 of you wrote to Governor Blanco and District Attorney Reed Walters. On September 20th, 2007, more than 10,000 of you went to Jena. Members who couldn’t make it to Jena held more than 150 rallies and vigils across the country, and made more than 6,000 phone calls to elected officials in Louisiana. And a few weeks later, ColorOfChange members sent almost 4,000 complaints demanding an inquiry into the DA’s actions.

Your actions offline and online helped put Jena on the map and resulted in critical coverage in every mainstream news outlet. You started a movement that made it impossible for Louisiana officials to support the status quo.

Today we offer congratulations to these young men and their families, and we say thank you to the entire ColorOfChange.org community. We’re also so thankful to the attorneys who took these cases but chose to stay out of the limelight. They and several others3 are the unsung heroes of this story.

As the young men of the Jena 6 close this chapter of their lives, we wanted to give you an opportunity to wish them well. Click the link below to leave a personal statement for the young men of the Jena 6, or to listen to the voicemail from Jim Boren thanking the ColorOfChange community for our work:

While this is a great moment, it’s important to remember that if it were not for the extreme nature of this case, most of us wouldn’t have known about it or gotten involved. The reality is that there are countless Jena 6’s: young people–often Black and male–who are overcharged or unduly criminalized, and whose plight is unknown to most of the outside world.

Even in the case of the Jena 6, we need to take stock of what did not happen. While Judge JP Mauffray was taken off the case due to the appearance of bias (a pivotal moment for the cases), District Attorney Reed Walters–the person largely responsible for the problems in the first place–still has his job.

It’s the reason our work cannot just be about identifying and fighting for individuals railroaded by the system, but about creating systemic change in criminal justice in America. We are truly grateful to have the chance to do this work with you, and we’re hoping for your continued engagement and support.

Thanks and Peace,

— James, Gabriel, William, Dani and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
June 28, 2009

Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU — your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:


1. “Plea Bargain Wraps Up ‘Jena 6’ Case,” 9-26-09
2. The sixth teenager charged, Mychal Bell, pleaded guilty to battery in juvenile court on December 3rd, 2007.

3. Thanks are due to Alan Bean, Tory Pegram, and King Downing, who dedicated months to working with the families and getting the story out, and to our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center who played a central role in putting together and supporting the legal teams. Without any one of them, our work would have been hampered, or in some cases not possible at all.

Eddie Griffin’s thoughts on Shawn Williams’ thoughts on Juneteenth

BY EDDIE GRIFFIN of Eddie Griffin BASG Blog

Black Bourgeoisie?

I found it interesting that Shawn P. Williams writes in
“Why” Part Two: Why I celebrate Juneteenth:

In my adult years as I began to rub elbows with the black bourgeoisies, many of them scoffed at the June 19th holiday. “Why would you celebrate slaves in Texas spending an extra 2 ½ years in bondage?” they would ask. I have to admit, it’s a pretty good question… As we’ve gotten more and more educated, we get further and further away from the wisdom born out of the struggle of our people.

Eddie Griffin Commentary-

I don’t know what “black bourgeoisie” means anymore. Back in the day, it meant something negative like that of a black person whose thinking was whitewashed, or someone going through an identity crisis, or someone who thought themselves to be more educated and elite than the common everyday Negro. We used to think that they acted and thought themselves to be better than the rest of us… maybe so.

Ignoring the French historiography and Marxist class categorizations that give meaning to the name of this group of people, I want to go straight to the psycho-sociological aspect of the issue… that self-contradictory, mismatch phenomenon of being sociologically black and psychologically alienated from an appreciation of black heritage.
“Why would you celebrate slaves in Texas spending an extra 2 ½ years in bondage?” they asked blogger Shawn Williams. Notwithstanding the writer’s thoughts, note how the question was formulated in their minds. True to its characteristic, the so-called black bourgeoisie sees the cup half empty, instead of half full.

To them, Juneteenth is not a celebration of Freedom, but rather a “black thing” to be disdained, because the very thought of slavery turns them off. After all, there are many whites who would rather not think about it, along with the guilt and shame of it. And also, how many non-Jewish Germans memorialize the holocaust? The so-called black bourgeoisie are escapists who would rather inculcate more pleasant thoughts.

It may not have ever dawned on them that Juneteenth is a celebration of Freedom, like the Fourth of July. What say, in celebrating the Passover, are Jewish people celebrating 400 years of Egyptian bondage, or the blessing of Emancipation?
The so-called black bourgeoisie sees only what it wishes to see, thinks only what it wishes to think, and choses to see no more and know no more than they already see and know. Therefore, black is an inappropriate descriptive for this bourgeoisie- thinking people. Being bourgeois is what it is… a colorless attitude of people who thinks of themselves as more highly favored than their peers and contemporaries, and thereby different, even better than they, and a little more holier than thou.
Juneteenth, with them, will probably never find merit, because they will remember only what they have been taught about it in integrated schools by teachers who were uneducated and unappreciative of black history. Hence, they will never seek to know otherwise. They even avoid contact with any knowledge that would burst the bubble of their brainwashing.

They are alienated from their common identity and estranged from their heritage… like a cow with the head of a goat. (eddiegriffin)

“We, the colored soldiers, have fairly won our rights by loyalty and bravery — shall we obtain them? If we are refused now, we shall demand them.” Sgt. Maj. William McCeslin, 29th U.S.C.T. (Source: Appomattox Court House National Historical Park)

Stephen Tyrone Johns, 39, killed in Holocaust Museum Shooting

The Holocaust Memorial Museum announced that 39 year old Stephen Tyrone Johns died as a result of gunshot wounds suffered at the hands of Neo-Nazi James von Brunn.  The Museum released the following statement.

There are no words to express our grief and shock over today’s events at the Museum, which took the life of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns. Officer Johns, who died heroically in the line of duty, served on the Museum’s security staff for six years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johns’s family. We have made the decision to close the Museum Thursday, June 11, in honor of Officer Johns and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory.

DCist points us to a memorial Facebook group that has been created in his honor.