Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 20:05 UK

Row over US black scholar arrest

Henry Louis Gates
Prof Henry Louis Gates spent four hours in custody, his lawyer says

Police have apologised to a black Harvard scholar whose arrest last week on his own front doorstep sparked allegations of racism.

Prof Henry Louis Gates was held last week in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to the top university where he teaches.

Police were called after a woman reported she saw two black males with backpacks trying to force entry.

Cambridge police have now dropped a disorderly conduct charge, calling the arrest "regrettable and unfortunate".

The 58-year-old professor had reportedly told arresting officers "this is what happens to black men in America".

Kelly Downes from Cambridge police said the arrest was "regrettable and unfortunate"

Handcuffed on porch

His lawyer said Prof Gates had just returned from a trip overseas and, upon arriving at the property with a driver, found his front door jammed and had to force it open.

By the time police arrived at the house, he and the driver had managed to get inside the property.

"Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard university," lawyer Charles Ogletree said in a statement.

After providing the officer with his university ID card and driver's licence, the African-American studies scholar was handcuffed on his front porch, the lawyer said.

A police report said the academic had "exhibited loud and tumultuous behaviour".

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