A distinguished black Harvard University professor was handcuffed and dragged off his porch to jail after Massachusetts cops mistook him for a burglar.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's most renowned scholars of African-American history, was busted when he repeatedly accused a cop of racism for confronting him, police said.
"Why, because I'm a black man in America?" Gates, 58, demanded, the police report said.
This booking photo released by the Cambridge, Mass., Police Dept., shows Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr
"I warned Gates to calm down, but Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell at me," Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley wrote. "It was at this time that I informed Gates he was under arrest."
Gates heads Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research. He was also host of "African American Lives," a PBS series in which he traced the roots of black celebs, including Oprah Winfry and Morgan Freeman. Time magazine has named him one of the 25 most influential Americans.
Despite his fame, Crowley, who is white, didn't recognize Gates, prompting the prominent academic to yell, "You don't know who you're messing with!"
Crowley said he took offense at Gates' "loud and tumultuous behavior."
"I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me," he wrote in his report.
Crowley said Gates continued to berate him - and when he asked the professor to speak to him outside, he claims the scholar told him, "Ya, I'll speak to your momma outside."
Gates apparently arrived home from China last Thursday to find his front door so damaged he couldn't open it, said his Harvard colleague Charles Ogletree.
When Gates and his driver tried to get in through the back door they set off the alarm and a white neighbor who saw them called the cops.
"He was handcuffed on his own front porch," said Ogletree, explaining that Gates produced ID to prove he lived there and that he was a Harvard professor.
Gates was held at the Cambridge police station for four hours before being released without bail on charges of disorderly conduct, Ogletree said.
Harvard colleagues called the arrest a case of racial profiling.
"We do not believe this arrest would have happened if professor Gates was white," said Allen Counter, who has taught neuroscience at Harvard for 25 years.
In a statement last night, the Rev. Al Sharpton called Gates' arrest "an outrage of no small implication."
"I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black, but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs," said Sharpton, who is vowing to attend Gates' Aug. 26 arraignment.