WILLIAM Fleming Jr. is young, black, male and the exact opposite of the bunch of punks who harassed whites and Asians at the Movies at Harbor Park last month.
Fleming is the manager at the theater complex on Market Place in downtown Baltimore. But first let's talk about the punks, whose actions were discussed on WBAL Radio and in a column in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter.
Alex Gianturco, who wrote the column, obviously doesn't buy into this "blacks can't be racist" nonsense. He and about 30 white and Asian Johns Hopkins University students went to Harbor Park the night the movie "The Replacement Killers" opened. Then the punks showed up. According to Gianturco, they yelled racist insults at the Asian students. One of the punks draped his arm around the neck of Gianturco's roommate.
"Yo man, go get me some Gummie Bears, or you're not gonna make it out alive," the punk threatened. Several of the punks then punched Gianturco and his roommate on the arm, telling them they'd be killed if they tried to leave.
"[They] sure as hell were the most offensive, racist and horrifying excuses for human beings I have ever encountered," Gianturco wrote. "Take every stereotype about an ignorant, hateful racist, and multiply it, and you might have something to compare with this trash."
As if what has been described above doesn't give you some idea of what Gianturco and the other Hopkins students had to deal with, consider this: Gianturco comes from Birmingham, Ala., where he said he "had seen examples of racism everywhere. ...But Alabama had not prepared me for Harbor Park."
Gianturco's column ends with him and the other Hopkins students leaving. Several of the punks screamed, "Get out of our theater, whitey," as they left.
The "get out of our theater" quote must come as quite a shock to Fleming, who has this notion that Harbor Park is there to serve everyone. Gianturco's column will surely leave some with the impression that Harbor Park is a hostile place for whites and Asians, but as Fleming stood in the theater lobby Monday afternoon, an elderly white couple came in to see "Palmetto." A young white couple walked in, looking for the theater showing "Krippendorf's Tribe." Two white girls waltzed eagerly in to see "Titanic," probably to pine away for Leonardo DiCaprio, and not for the first time. An elderly Asian man was also a patron.
Missing from the brouhaha over what happened the night of "The Replacement Killers" opened is what happened after the Hopkins students left. Gianturco's column implied Harbor Park's management was unconcerned and did nothing. What Harbor Park management actually did was to call police, who emptied the theater. It was then closed for the night.
"The crowd was so rowdy we didn't know who the guilty ones were," said Anitra Jones, a 1995 Baltimore City College graduate who is an assistant manager at Harbor Park. "So we had to kick everybody out after the police came."
"We don't condone that down here," Fleming said. "We took care of the situation. It got out of hand, and we handled the situation as best we could. It could happen anywhere."
It could happen anywhere punks, poot-butts and the charter members of the Cult of the Uncouth decide to show up. And show up they will. It's not bad enough that they're ignoramuses. They already know that. They feel they have to share their boorishness with the world, to let us all know how ignorant they are.
How deep runs their ignorance? These racist, bigoted, addle-brained idiots didn't consider for a second that their actions make the jobs of blacks like Fleming and Jones harder. If, because the puddin'-heads can't resist the urge to show their ignorance, Harbor Park has to close, two things will happen. The first is that those city residents of all races who don't have a car to ride out to suburban malls for a movie will have a hard time seeing new films. The second is that blacks trained in management - like Fleming and Jones - will be out of work.
But let's not just blame the punks who threatened Hopkins students the night of Feb. 6. Those blacks who insist blacks can't be racist must share part of the blame. It's that idiotic notion that made these punks feel their racism was justified and excusable.
Pub Date: 3/04/98