Constitutional Law

Boston Cop Who Dissed Harvard Prof in E-Mail Sues Over Suspension


The controversial disorderly conduct arrest last month of Harvard University professor at his own Cambridge, Mass., home continues to create fallout far from the original scene, two weeks after officials agreed to drop the case against Henry Louis Gates Jr.

A federal civil rights lawsuit has now been filed by a Boston police officer who has been suspended from the force over an inflammatory e-mail he sent to a local newspaper columnist from his home computer about Gates, according to the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.

Gates is a prominent African-American academic, and Boston officials called officer Justin Barrett’s reference to the professor as “a banana-eating jungle monkey” racist and inflammatory.

Barrett, 36, contends he was unfairly disciplined at work, in violation of his civil and due process rights, and suffered embarassment, damage to his reputation and post-traumatic stress as a result. His lawsuit seeks a court order preserving his job and precluding any reduction in pay, as well as compensatory and punitive damages and reimbursement of his legal fees.

Meanwhile, Gates—who at a “beer summit” at the White House with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden resolved his differences with a white Cambridge police officer who arrested him—says he has been receiving threats. Harvard officials reportedly have suggested that he move.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “D.C. Lawyer Chants ‘I Hate Police,’ Is Arrested, Says Officer Used Slur”

Associated Press: “Gates racial drama ensnares minor characters, too”

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