Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's most prominent African American scholars, was arrested last week at his home near Harvard University after trying to force open the locked front door.
According to a report by the police department in Cambridge, Mass., Gates accused police officers at the scene of being racist and said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America." The incident was first reported by the Harvard Crimson.
Gates, the director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Studies, has been away from his home much of the summer while working on a documentary called "Faces of America," said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and friend of Gates who is working as his lawyer. Gates returned from China last week and had trouble opening the front door with his key.
Gates, 58, was arrested Thursday by police looking into a possible break-in for disorderly conduct "after exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior" at his home, according to the police report. Officers said they tried to calm down Gates, who responded, "You don't know who you're messing with," according to the police report.