by Dr. Boyce Watkins, The Institute for Black Public Policy
A recent report to be published Thursday in the Boston Globe is set to show that the Cambridge Police Department does not use racial profiling, as it was accused of doing during the controversial case last summer involving Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates. The report, compiled by the New England Center of Investigative Reporting, analyzed 392 disorderly conduct arrests between 2004 and 2009. During that time, 57 percent of those arrested were white, and 34 percent were black. These numbers almost directly mirror the percentages in the community in which the arrests were made.
I did a great deal of CNN commentary on the Henry Louis Gates case, and to the ire of some of my fellow black scholars at Harvard, I firmly held the position that the Gates case was not about racial profiling. Not to say that the officer didn't violate procedure, but the truth is that there was almost nothing about that case that made me believe that Professor Gates was arrested because he was black.