Actor accuses Baltimore police of racial bias Accounts of arrest differ: Man charged with assault says officer harassed him

February 11, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A local playwright and actor whose work showcases cultural diversity was arrested Sunday afternoon on a downtown street by police officers who the playwright says shouted racially tinged insults at him.

Mitchell Ferguson said he was doing nothing more than standing at Read and St. Paul streets searching his briefcase for a script when an officer questioned him and ordered him to move.

The accounts of Central District Officer Timothy S. Williams, a seven-year veteran who is white, and Ferguson, who is black, differ. The officer wrote in his report that he was accused of being racist for simply asking if the actor needed help. Ferguson claims the officer harassed him because he is black.

Ferguson, 43, was arrested about 1: 40 p.m. Sunday and was released on personal bail from Central Booking and Intake Facility about 10 p.m. He was charged with assault, resisting arrest and failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer "made to prevent a disturbance of the public peace."

Williams and Sgt. Scott Bloodsworth -- who helped in the arrest -- could not be reached for comment yesterday. Police officials would not comment, except to say the area is known for prostitution and that officers are under orders to keep the corners clear of loiterers.

Ferguson, who lives in the 100 block of N. Broadway and has no criminal record, said he plans to hire a lawyer and file a harassment complaint. He is scheduled to stand trial March 17. Because of his arrest, Sunday's matinee performance of "Locks & Chains" at the Theater Project on West Preston Street was canceled.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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