Wendell Pierce, the 52-year-old actor best known for playing Detective William “Bunk” Moreland on HBO’s “The Wire,” was arrested Saturday morning in Atlanta. Police have confirmed that Pierce was charged with simple battery and released that same day on a $1,000 bond, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The altercation, which took place in a bar in the Loews Hotel in Atlanta, reportedly arose from a conversation about politics. Pierce, an avowed Hillary Clinton supporter, allegedly began arguing with a Bernie Sanders supporter and her boyfriend at The Lobby, the hotel’s bar, around 3:30 a.m., according to TMZ. The site goes on to report the conversation became heated, and Pierce “became enraged, pushed the boyfriend and then went after his girlfriend … grabbing her hair and smacking her in the head.”
The Daily Beast offers a slightly contradictory account, reporting that the woman “stepped into an altercation already under way.”
Atlanta police released a statement, calling the incident nothing “significant,” according to WDSU.
The full statement:
Mr. Wendell Pierce was arrested early Saturday morning at Atlanta Lowes [sic] Hotel, where he was a guest. The incident did not rise to anything significant so no special notification was made … it was treated like any other arrest a patrol officer conducts. Mr. Pierce made no indication he was famous nor did the officer inquire. Once the incident report is complete we will be delighted to share the details. But at this time there is nothing significant to share with the media.
Pierce did not respond to a request for comment by New Orleans’ daily paper, The New Orleans Advocate. Police said more details will be released, potentially as early as Monday.
Pierce is also known for playing trombonist Antoine Batiste in “Treme,” the HBO series about his hometown New Orleans in the months following Hurricane Katrina. And, recently, he portrayed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the HBO historical drama “Confirmation.”
Off-screen, Pierce is known for his political and social activism. For example, he recently used his substantial Twitter platform — more than 100,000 followers — to call attention to the search for Anign Jordan, an 11-year-old girl who went missing in New Orleans. She was found later that same day. He also uses Twitter to discuss his politics, which often includes disparaging statements concerning Bernie Sanders and his supporters.
He also has been a staunch supporter of President Obama. In 2013, the Associated Press named Pierce as one of President Obama’s top fundraisers, as he reportedly raised at least $500,000 for the president’s re-election campaign. And in 2012, he attended a White House state dinner with PBS journalist Gwen Ifill.
In his hometown of New Orleans, Pierce is known not only for his acting roles but as a community leader, particularly in the aftermath of Katrina. His family home in Pontchartrain Park, the city’s first African American post-war suburb, flooded in the storm, receiving 14 feet of water, according to the Hollywood Reporter. As Pierce wrote in “The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, a Play, and the City That Would Not be Broken,” his family’s house was far from the only one in the neighborhood that flooded.
On the morning of Aug. 29, 2005, Katrina gashed the levee in two places north of the bridge, which traverses the Industrial Canal, the economically vital artery for shipping from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain and, via two other man-made canals, out into the Gulf of Mexico. Millions of gallons of water washed through the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. In a single morning, a historic black neighborhood of 14,000 souls, among them the city’s poorest, ceased to exist.
Days later, after the water receded, there was nothing left but ruins, and corpses.
In response to the storm, he founded the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation, which was dedicated to building 125 new homes in the neighborhood, Al Jazeera reported. He was also a proprietor of the Sterling Farms supermarket, which sought to fill food deserts in New Orleans by offering the city’s economically disadvantaged residents easy access to a grocery stocked with healthy foods at reasonable prices. First lady Michelle Obama visited the store in 2013.
If proven, the allegations against Pierce wouldn’t be the first time political views have caused real world strife during this election season. Two weeks ago, a Trump-supporting tow truck driver refused service to a disabled Bernie Sanders supporter because of her political beliefs.