Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has waded into the controversy over whether actor and go-go singer Anwar "Big G" Glover lost his job as a radio personality on WKYS (93.9 FM) because he is a vocal supporter of the mayor's.
Fenty joined Glover and Peaceoholics co-founder Ronald Moten at a press conference in Southeast Sunday to accuse station management of violating Glover's First Amendment rights.
"Through pressure, they are trying to get Big G to stop, on his own time, supporting a political candidate, which you just can't do in this country," Fenty said.
But with station officials unavailable to comment Sunday, the circumstances surrounding Glover's allegations remain cloudy.
Glover said he was given an "ultimatum" Friday that he either step down or stop using his radio program to promote Fenty in his race against D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray. Glover said station managers were unhappy that he is featured in a Fenty campaign ad that airs on the station.
"Ironically, two weeks from election day, as more people are getting the facts, I am told I have to stop exercising my rights in endorsing the mayor, and If I continue to endorse him, I will be out of work," said Glover, the lead singer in the Backyard Band who was also an actor on the HBO series The Wire. "I will continue to endorse Mayor Fenty as he has supported me."
Glover, a Columbia Heights native, has been close to the mayor ever since Fenty, then a council member, wrote a letter to a Superior Court judge in 2004 requesting leniency for Glover after he was arrested on gun charges. He ended up with probation.
During the news conference, which drew numerous reporters and television crews, Glover gave conflicting information about whether he will be returning to the station.
At one point, Glover said he will be allowed to return to the airwaves as soon as the Sept. 14 Democratic primary is over. At other times, he suggested he was "indefinitely suspended." It was also unclear whether Glover has been endorsing Fenty during his radio program or whether his support was limited to the radio ads.
Glover alleges that Gray is responsible for him being removed from the air, but was unable to produce evidence of his assertion, except to say his supervisors told him they had gotten calls from the Gray campaign about the ad.
Gray said through a spokesman Saturday he "doesn't even know who Big G is." Some Gray supporters allege that Fenty and Moten are using Glover to try to generate sympathy from his young fans for the mayor.
When Fenty addressed the news conference, he said Glover "represents everything that is great about D.C."
"He grew up in D.C. and admittedly went through some tough times when he made some bad decisions, but he learned from those decision," Fenty said. "He's as much of an entertainment star as we have had in this city... I believe someone like this who comes from D.C. and who made so much success of himself and is such a great role model, that is the last person you should ever try to tear down and ever try to harm and I just hope that that Gray campaign and his employer reverse this quickly because he is an icon and role model to so many."
Mo Elleithee, a Gray strategist, issued a statement Sunday night reiterating the campaign's position that it never requested that Glover be taken off the air.
"As much as Ron Moten loves to stir up controversy, unfortunately we can't oblige this time," Elleithee said. "Our campaign and candidate had nothing to do with this. This appears to be a matter between Big G, his employer and for some inexplicable reason, the mayor."
This post was updated with Elleithee's comment at 9:45 p.m.--Tim Craig