Blackface Fundraiser for Police Indicted in Freddie Gray Case Nixed

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
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Bobby Berger, shown here in blackface, wanted to perform his routine during a fundraiser to benefit the families of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
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Former Police Officer Bobby Berger wanted to raise money for the six Baltimore officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, so his plan was to hold a fundraiser where he would perform in blackface.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Berger, 67, lost his job as a cop in the 1980s after receiving several complaints from the NAACP about his act. But Berger is nothing if not committed, and so the blackface performer's fundraiser was planned for Nov. 1. Berger told the Sun that he had sold some 600 tickets at $45 apiece—that is until the police union, NAACP and lawyers for the cops involved found out about Berger's plans, which led to the cancellation of the event.

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"My client will not participate. We will not accept a single, solitary dime from this sort of action," attorney Ivan Bates told the Sun. Bates represents Sgt. Alicia White, one of the six officers charged in Gray's death. Gray died in April from a spinal injury suffered while in police custody.

"This is the type of racist behavior that we do not need and do not want," the lawyer added.

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The Baltimore NAACP also denounced the event. "I think it's disgusting," Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the city's NAACP chapter, told the Sun. "Right now, with all the things that are going on in Baltimore and also with all the issues with the Confederate flag, this is just putting more salt in the wound."

An attorney for the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police added that it did not support the event. "We're completely unaware of it. We don't endorse it. We do not support it," said Michael Davey.

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Berger, who considers his act to be a tribute to the late blackface performer Al Jolson, told the Sun that he didn't think his act was racist and that African Americans enjoy his work. He added that he was only trying to provide financial relief for the families of the officers during this time.

"I've been through what they're going through and I know they need the help," Berger told the Sun.

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Read more at the Baltimore Sun.

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