False leader in Annapolis Anne Arundel: Spencer exploited the very neighborhoods that he claimed to be protecting.

September 28, 1998

BY PLEADING guilty to drug conspiracy charges, Curtis Allan Spencer ended a decades-long charade.

As leader of the group Friends of Black Annapolitans, Spencer, 48, masqueraded as a man interested in bettering the impoverished public housing complexes in the state capital. Now everyone can see that Spencer had no intention of aiding Annapolis' African American community. More hood than Robin Hood, he just meant to exploit it.

Spencer led a gang responsible for distributing as much as $20,000 of drugs a week and 80 percent of the city's cocaine sales, according to Annapolis police and federal prosecutors. Yet, Spencer, playing a dual role as local activist, loved to blame others for the misery and crime in such areas as Robinwood and Clay Street -- even as he and his cohorts' illegal trade helped to aggravate it.

Unfortunately, too many responsible people fell for his guile. Spencer succeeded in turning blacks against the Annapolis Police Department after Officer David W. Garcia killed a black teen-ager and wounded another while breaking up an assault on a third man, also black, two years ago. Although an internal police investigation and a grand jury did not turn up evidence that Officer Garcia acted unlawfully, Spencer promoted the notion that city police were targeting black youths.

Spencer blames his drug arrest on his efforts to stand up to the police. Hogwash. Spencer's criminal -- not political -- activity got him in trouble with the law. Were Spencer as innocent as he maintains, why would he accept a guilty plea that carries a prison sentence that could be 10 years? Spencer pleaded guilty because he could have been tried and convicted as a drug

kingpin, with a mandatory life term.

With Curtis Spencer off the streets, Annapolis will be much better off. Perhaps the people he exploited can find a leader who truly has their interests at heart.

Pub Date: 9/28/98

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