A former cop planned to feature a blackface performance to raise money for six Baltimore officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
Bobby Berger, 67, was once fired from his department for his impersonation of Al Jolson, a white entertainer best remembered for his blackface routine in the early 20th century.
However, he still thinks reviving the controversial act for cops indicted in the death of an unarmed African-American man doesn’t contain “one iota of racial overtones" in it.
“There’s not a prejudiced bone in my body, I would never do anything to insult anybody. I wouldn’t do that show if I thought it was insulting … It feels like the right time to put some money in these family's pockets,” he explained in an interview with Ebony.
The event had sold 600 tickets. Fortunately, it was cancelled after drawing heavy criticism.
The event venue, Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, announced that it had canceled the performance.
“No contract was signed with Mr. Berger,” the notice said. “Michael’s does not condone blackface performances of any kind.”
Michael Davey, an attorney for the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, said officers do not support the fundraiser.
“They’ve been put in a pretty bad position without their knowledge,” he said of the police officers.
FOP #3 statement posted to FB on 7/20/15 regarding controversial fundraiser pic.twitter.com/hB2kUlmJSV— Baltimore City FOP (@FOP3) July 22, 2015
Attorney for Baltimore police union condemns blackface fund raiser for officers, reports @RectorSun "We will accept no funds." lawyer says.— Peter Hermann (@phscoop) July 22, 2015
The NAACP, said the idea was “very distasteful.”
“This is showing no sensitivity to the family of Freddie Gray,” Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore chapter.
Berger said in an interview on Wednesday that he only intended to help the officers who were indicted in the Gray case.
"I want to get these people some money," he said. "I know they need it, and that's the long and short of it."