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Man charged in toilet caper; police thought it was a bomb

A man with a history of railing at political figures of all ideological stripes has been charged with leaving a fake "destructive device" — a toilet equipped with electric gadgets that police feared was a bomb — outside a former courthouse in Towson.

Duane G. Davis, 51, was being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center. He is scheduled to appear in court March 4.

The discovery of the toilet Monday morning outside the former courthouse — which houses the County Council chambers and administrative offices — prompted a shutdown of surrounding streets and the attentions of a bomb disposal squad. It was found to be harmless.

Davis has plastered his Facebook and MySpace pages with vehement denunciations of political figures he sees as corrupt, and seems to view his various encounters with law enforcement as emblematic of overbearing, racist societies. "This is America and we suffer the same oppression as the People of Egygpt," he wrote Sunday on his Facebook page.

His alleged targeting of the county building may have been a response to an earlier order by Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher to have him escorted any time he was in the courthouse on Bosley Avenue, a block west of the building where the toilet was found. Davis called the order "a blatant violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act."

In a Facebook posting on April 18, 2010, Davis wrote that he had sent "videos and countless letters" to Baltimore County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II, who acts as the court's administrative judge, asking for an "open debate."

"His reply to my request was denial of access to the Baltimore County Courthouse," Davis wrote.

A probable-cause affidavit filed Monday after his arrest says several photographs of Davis were attached to the toilet, accompanied by his address on the 1400 block of Lochner Road. One of the notes called on officials in Illinois to investigate the 2006 death of Davis' son Gerrell as he broke into a house there.

Davis was charged with two counts under state laws tailored to address items that might be bombs or could appear to be toxic or dangerous. The first charge accuses Davis of making a false statement about a destructive device, meaning that the act of leaving the toilet gave the false impression of creating a dangerous situation.

The second count refers to the toilet and its gadgets, under a law that forbids the placement of any item "that is construed to represent a destructive device with the intent to terrorize, frighten, intimidate, threaten or harass."

In a Facebook posting on Monday morning, before his arrest, he wrote that in the American judicial system "blacks have no rights" and that the United States is "a nation of cowards, liars and thieves." In another posting that same morning, Davis — who describes himself as a youth advocate and community activist in Randallstown — claims to want to give up his citizenship. He also appears to invite offers for film and book deals: "I name names and dare America to give me a public trial with all my witnesses. Movie, book and a trial."

On his MySpace page, Davis, who calls himself Shorty, described his heroes as Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey. He acknowledged using toilets as political statements on previous occasions, and one remained Tuesday outside the city Board of Education headquarters on North Avenue.

"Jesus had a cross," Davis wrote in a posting. "Martin had a dream. Malcolm had a gun. Shorty got a toilet, but we all have our things to deal with."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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