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Anti-intimidation effort recruits Anthony
Representatives of NBA star Carmelo Anthony are negotiating with federal and state officials who want the Baltimore native to participate in a marketing campaign to combat the growing problem of witness intimidation.
"He definitely will be outreaching to the community. The complete details aren't formed yet," said Jane Yin, a spokeswoman with BDA Sports Management, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based firm that represents the 20-year-old National Basketball Association player.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said yesterday that he is trying to conclude talks with Anthony's agents about the Denver Nuggets forward filming public service announcements that would be produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Cummings is a member of the House Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee, which oversees the office.
He said Anthony needs to reverse the impact of his brief appearance in a Stop Snitching DVD that was filmed while he was visiting his former West Baltimore neighborhood. Others in the film talk about retaliating against witnesses who cooperate with police and testify in court.
"A horrible message has been sent," said Cummings, who is urging Anthony to appear in two spots: one on police cooperation and a second with an anti-drug theme.
"These conversations have not been negative," Cummings said. "What I have said is this is a way you can turn a negative into a huge positive."
Aides to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. also are trying to enlist Anthony. The governor is proposing legislation to increase penalties for witness intimidation and allow testimony in court from witnesses who cooperated previously but did not or could not appear in person.
Anthony is one of several prominent spokespeople being sought to help win support, Ehrlich said yesterday.
"We're trying anything we can to get the message out, and to the extent we can get somebody with credibility, we will," the governor said.
Alan Friedman, director of the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, said the NBA season has complicated the timing of Anthony's participation.
"The problem right now is the scheduling," Friedman said.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, another proponent of anti-intimidation legislation, said Anthony's stature would help focus attention on a pressing need.
"He is a megaphone we wouldn't have normally," Ivey said. "He is going to be able to reach guys who have zero interest in listening to prosecutors."
Yin, the agents' spokeswoman, said Anthony's participation in commercials or other events would not be precipitated by fallout from the DVD. "This is something he had planned to do regardless," she said.
Anthony's interest in an anti-violence campaign was first reported yesterday by The Washington Post, which quoted him as saying "I would never support anybody harming anyone. ... I just want to help."
Sun staff writers Ivan Penn and Andrew A. Green contributed to this article.
Correction: An article yesterday incorrectly stated Alan R. Friedman's title. He is a policy adviser for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.