The venue where a former Baltimore police officer planned to perform an Al Jolson-inspired blackface routine says it will not host the event.
EBONY.com broke the story of the controversial event, planned by Bobby Bergerto raise money for the six Baltimore officers who have been indicted in the death of Freddie Gray.
But the AP reports that the venue where Bobby Berger intended to hold the event, Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, posted a notice on its website that the fundraiser will not be hosted there.
“No contract was signed with Mr. Berger,” the notice said. “Michael’s does not condone blackface performances of any kind.”
Berger has performed the blackface singing act for decades. He was fired from the Baltimore police force in 1981 for performing the act in his spare time.
Prior to the event being canceled, he told EBONY that his performances as Jolson were not “racial,” and that the nature of the Gray case didn’t deter him from using this particular means of fundraising.
“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.”
Talk-show host Montel Williams disputed Berger’s claims that he once had the former officer on his television show via a Facebook post, saying he didn’t recall doing so and finds blackface to be “absolutely as offensive as using the N-word.” He also says that since the story broke, he has been told that Berger has performed as him in Baltimore-area bars. Williams is a Baltimore native.
The Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police made a point to distance themselves from the event prior to it’s cancelation:
FOP #3 statement posted to FB on 7/20/15 regarding controversial fundraiser pic.twitter.com/hB2kUlmJSV
— Baltimore City FOP (@FOP3) July 22, 2015