A. F. James MacArthur

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A. F. James MacArthur
Photo of A.F. James MacArthur.jpg
Residence Baltimore, Maryland
Occupation journalist, radio personality, former cab driver
Criminal status Under Supervision of Division of Parole & Probation
Website http://baltimorespectator.blogspot.com/

A. F. James MacArthur (b. 1964–1965) is a multimedia Baltimore journalist known for reporting on police and criminal activity.[1] On 1 December 2012, he was arrested at his house after a prolonged standoff with police—including a long telephone conversation which he broadcast online.[2]

Since his release after six months of pre-trial incarceration in a notorious Baltimore jail -- being denied bail multiple times -- MacArthur has steadily risen in prominence and notoriety on the Baltimore media scene. Using a very popular Twitter account, along with maintaining several frequently visited websites, a radio podcast, and a YouTube account, MacArthur's combined total audience reach exceeds that of some entire newsrooms.[citation needed]


MacArthur has reported for years on crime, policing, and Baltimore politics. He is known for making personal appearances at crime scenes gathering information.[2][3][4] He co-hosted "Taxi Talk Radio" on Baltimore's WOLB radio station.[5] He also writes the "Baltimore Spectator" blog. He reported on the Occupy Baltimore movement during its time in McKeldin Square.[6]


Officers of the Baltimore Police Department, arrived at MacArthur's home on December 1, 2012. They sought to arrest him over his failure to report for a court date six months earlier stemming from a 2009 gun charge.[7] MacArthur had reportedly received a tip about the pending arrest, and publicly threatened police over Twitter.[4] The situation turned into a five-hour standoff, during which MacArthur had a long phone conversation with BPD Lieutenant Jason Yerg. MacArthur broadcast this conversation online to about 10,000 listeners.[8] During the conversation, MacArthur questioned the police's motives, said they were conducting an excessive response, and suggested that they were scaring away potential witnesses. He also raised general criticisms of the police department.[7] He surrendered at 11 P.M.[1][9]

MacArthur's use of social media during the standoff was reportedly unprecedented. “This will go right into the training scenario,. They will discuss this in classrooms and go through everything to try and determine how everybody reacted", said retired Baltimore police officer Elbert Shirey.[4][10]

Police later searched MacArthur's house and found a shotgun. MacArthur and supporters say the weapon was planted.[11]


Following his arrest, MacArthur was remanded to the Baltimore Central Booking & Intake Center. During his time in Central Booking he was denied bail and was reported to have been denied access to visitors outside of legal representation [12][13] His incarceration had provoked demonstrations by supporters, who described MacArthur as a "political prisoner" and called his arrest unfair.[13] A co-worker of MacArthur's speculated that he was being targeted for reporting on police corruption.[3]

On 28 December, MacArthur was again denied bail by judge Lynn K. Stewart. Responding to a habeas corpus petition filed by Jill P. Carter on MacArthur's behalf, Stewart said that MacArthur was a "threat to society" and would remain incarcerated.[14][15]


  1. ^ a b Edward Ericson Jr., "Spectating from behind bars: Crime blogger held without bail after broadcasting standoff with police", City Paper, 12 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b Ian Duncan, "Who is James MacArthur, the blogger at the center of the standoff?James MacArthur is a long-time blogger about Baltimore policing and politics", Baltimore Sun, 3 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b Marjan Asi, "Imprisoned journalist highlights police corruption in US", PressTV, 23 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Peter Hermann, "Barricade suspect live-streams police negotiating his surrender for arrest", Washington Post, 3 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Bealefeld has hopes for accused Greenmount Ave killers during radio appearance with police critic", Baltimore Sun, 28 April 2010.
  6. ^ Mike Hellgren, "Police Remove Occupy Baltimore Protesters", CBS Baltimore, 13 December 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Baltimore blogger live broadcasts his standoff with SWAT team Archived January 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.", RT", 3 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Witnesses Discuss Blogger’s Standoff With Police", CBS Baltimore, 3 December 2012.
  9. ^ Justin Fenton and Andrea K. Walker, "Local blogger surrenders to police after live broadcasting standoff: Man turns to social media, live broadcast with police negotiator as officers attempt to serve warrant", Baltimore Sun, 2 December 2012.
  10. ^ David Zurawik, "The year TV viewers started to talk back: David Zurawik Z on TV", Baltimore Sun, 23 December 2012.
  11. ^ Justin George and Ian Duncan, "'Baltimore Spectator' raises his profile in police standoff: Outspoken on radio and online, James Frank MacArthur has history of legal trouble" , Baltimore Sun, 10 December 2012.
  12. ^ Ian Duncan, "Blogger who live-streamed police standoff is denied bail: Baltimore judge cites MacArthur's 'violent and assaultive nature'", Baltimore Sun, 5 December 2012.
  13. ^ a b Alan Z. Forman, "Political Prisoner? — Supporters of gadfly journalist demonstrate outside Central Booking", Voice of Baltimore, 21 December 2012.
  14. ^ Justin George, "Blogger Baltimore Spectator again denied bail: Frank James MacArthur, who held a publicized standoff, faces weapons charge but attorney says highly unusual he's repeatedly denied bail", Baltimore Sun, 28 December 2012.
  15. ^ Alan Z. Forman, "Blogger Unbailed — Gadfly journalist denied bond for 2nd time", Voice of Baltimore, 28 December 2012.

Baltimore Spectator to go free

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