When word on Wednesday afternoon spread that a former cop was planning to bring back a blackface performance at a fall fundraiser for the police charged in connection with Freddie Gray’s death, the local outcry was swift and decidedly against Bobby Berger. Even the management of the spot where the event was set to be held decided it was offensive.
Bobby Berger organized the fundraiser, and planned to perform in blackface as a tribute to 20s and 30s entertainer Al Jolson. The event was set to be held at Michaels Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie. But after Baltimore’s police union condemned the event and the NAACP said there would likely be protest, space decided against hosting.
Here’s the full statement from Michael’s Eighth Avenue:
Bobby Berger will not host a fundraiser at Michael’s Eighth Avenue for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. No contract was signed with Mr. Berger. Michael’s does not condone blackface performances of any kind. As an event venue, it has not been the practice of Michael’s Eighth Avenue to pre-approve entertainment that is planned as part of a contracted event. This policy will be carefully and thoughtfully reviewed. Michael’s regrets any concerns that the discussions of this event may have caused in the community.
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