When a suspected drug dealer threatened Patricia Williams for testifying against him in court, a Baltimore County police officer was assigned for a month to protect her at her job.
Williams said that when she was the head housekeeper at a nearby motel, she would report the presence of drugs that she discovered while cleaning guests' rooms. She was threatened by one man who was arrested on the basis of her reports.
"When I needed the cops, those cops were there," Williams says, "no ifs, ands or buts."
Yesterday, Williams was there for the police, joining a small group of supporters outside the Woodlawn precinct.
The Westside Republican Club sponsored the demonstration to counter criticism of police following the shooting death of Sadiq Martin, 19, outside Woodlawn Senior High School.
George Murphy, president of the club, said the demonstration was held to bolster the morale of officers.
"It's very discouraging to have the police accused of murder when, in fact, they've been proven innocent," he said.
Martin was shot to death Sept. 23 by an officer from the Woodlawn precinct. Police said Martin was shot after he tried to run the officer over with a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Martin was black and he was shot by a white policeman. The shooting sparked sharp criticism from Martin's family; the Rev. Emmett Burns, pastor of the Rising Sun First Baptist Church; and others in the black community who questioned the policeman's use of deadly force. Martin did not have a police record and the incident began with the suspected theft of a radio from a parked car.
On Oct. 7, Burns led a protest outside police headquarters in Towson. Some of the protesters carried signs that said: "Pistol Lynching is Unlawful" and "Trigger Happy Cops Will Kill."
On Oct. 21, a county grand jury determined that the shooting was justified because the officer had reason to fear that Martin was trying to run him down.
Outside the Woodlawn precinct yesterday, Officer Kevin Scott, who works in community relations, said that only a few people were attempting to attach racial overtones to the incident.