Professor Can Laugh at His Arrest Now

Gates says he and Crowley talked about going to a Red Sox game together.


CHILMARK, Mass. (AP) — Henry Louis Gates, Jr. said Sunday he has been able to joke about his arrest by a white police officer that led to a national debate on race, but he also has received death threats and bomb threats.


In his first public appearance since meeting with Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley at the White House, Gates said he and the officer found some humor in the incident and have since discussed going out to eat or taking in a Boston Red Sox or Celtics game.


He said when their two families met in Washington, "Everyone looked like a deer caught in headlights." Crowley seemed very relieved when he shook his hand, he said.


"I said to him, 'I would have sworn you were 6-feet-8 inches tall,'" Gates said. "He said, 'I used to be, but I've lost 2 to 3 feet over the last two weeks.'"

Gates appeared at the Martha's Vineyard Book Festival in support of his 2009 book, "In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past." The book traces the family trees of black celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey.


But the talk focused instead on the aftermath of last month's disorderly conduct arrest at Gates' home.