By Kevin Rector, the Baltimore Sun

A local venue on Wednesday abruptly canceled a planned fundraiser for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray after the scheduled entertainment — a former Baltimore officer singing in blackface — drew sharp criticism.

Former Baltimore police officer Bobby Berger, performing in blackface.

Former Baltimore police officer Bobby Berger, performing in blackface.

Bobby Berger, 67, who was fired from the city police force in the 1980s after his off-duty performances in blackface drew the ire of the NAACP, had said he wanted to revive the act to help the families of the officers.

He said he had sold 600 tickets at $45 each to the bull roast scheduled for Nov. 1 at Michael’s Eighth Avenue, where he and several singers planned to perform as guests dined.

In his performances, Berger impersonates Al Jolson, a white entertainer from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s best remembered for his blackface performance of “Mammy” in the film “The Jazz Singer.”

But after news of the event began spreading Wednesday, Michael’s posted a statement on its website saying the event would not be held there…

Berger’s plans drew criticism earlier in the day from the NAACP, the city police union and an attorney representing one of the officers charged in the Gray case…

Michael Davey, an attorney who works with the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said the union was unaware of the event.

“We don’t endorse it. We do not support it, and we will accept no funds from anything involving this event,” Davey said…

Earlier, Berger said there is not “one iota of racial overtones” in his blackface performance and that thousands of African-Americans have seen his performances and enjoyed them. He said he organized the fundraiser because he knows how it feels to be suddenly without a paycheck from the department…

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