Demonstrators at City Hall want Frazier ousted

October 02, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A small group of protesters demanded at a City Hall rally yesterday that Baltimore's police commissioner resign or be fired, charging that he has failed to address racism and targets black officers for termination.

However, a Police Department spokesman dismissed the suggestion, and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's office defended Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier.

The protest group -- which included a minister, two fired police officers and a candidate for state Senate -- said that if Frazier doesn't quit or is not fired, it will seek to oust Schmoke from office.

The mayor's spokesman said his boss will not resign and called the protesters' demands unfair.

At the noontime rally, protesters singled out Schmoke in their comments, and some held signs calling for Schmoke and Frazier to step down.

"I do not understand how we have African-Americans in charge of this city and we have racism," said the Rev. John L. Wright.

Clarence M. Mitchell IV, who is running for the 44th District state Senate seat, said, "We are tired of asking Frazier questions that he lies to. We are demanding that the mayor fire him."

The protest came two days after the release of a deposition from April and July in which Frazier said racial discrimination exists on his 3,200-member force, which is 36 percent black.

Schmoke was flying back from a trip yesterday and could not be reached for comment. But his spokesman, Clinton R. Coleman, strongly endorsed Frazier and said the mayor's resignation is out of the question.

"The record will show [Frazier] has made progress and taken steps to address racism," Coleman said. "It is way too soon to give up on this police commissioner."

He said Frazier should be credited for honesty. "Had he stood up in the deposition and said there is no problem, then I think people would have a reason to gripe. He admitted there is a problem. What's wrong with that?"

The Police Department's chief spokesman, Robert W. Weinhold Jr., called the resignation demand "completely irresponsible and unfair. Commissioner Frazier and his entire leadership team are taking very positive and measurable steps toward internal reform."

Pub Date: 10/02/98

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