- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2015

A fundraiser scheduled for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray has been canceled after an outcry erupted over news that a former officer was slated to perform at the event in blackface.

News spread quickly Wednesday that Bobby Berger, a former Baltimore Police Department officer who had been fired from the force in the 1980s for his well-known blackface routine, would revisit his act at the upcoming benefit.

“Bobby ‘Al Jolson’ Berger-out of retirement,” read a flyer for the event. Mr. Berger had impersonated the white entertainer’s roles from movies such as “The Jazz Singer” at off-duty parties 30 years ago before being booted from the department. He later successfully appealed and won a $200,000 settlement in 1991.

The Nov. 1 event was going to be held to raise money for the six officers involved in the April 12 arrest of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died from injuries sustained while in police custody. Riots broke out in Baltimore soon after his passing as police conduct in the case and other similar events made national headlines.

Roughly 600 tickets had already been sold at $45 apiece as of Wednesday evening when the fundraiser was abruptly nixed.

Michael’s, a Glen Burnie, Maryland, venue where the event was to be held, announced soon after word surfaced of Mr. Berger’s plans that it would not host the fundraiser.

An attorney for Sgt. Alicia D. White, one of the indicted officers, told the Baltimore Sun that his client would not participate in the event and would “not accept a single solitary dime from this sort of action.”

Sgt. White, Officer Caeser R. Goodson Jr., Officer Garrett E. Miller, Lt. Brian W. Rice, Officer William G. Porter and Officer Edward M. Nero have all been charged in Gray’s death and pleaded not guilty. Their trial is expected to start in November.

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