The Wire actor Wendell Pierce arrested after scuffle over Democratic politics

Wendell Pierce posing at the premiere for the television movie Confirmation in Los Angeles, California, on March 31, 2016.
Wendell Pierce posing at the premiere for the television movie Confirmation in Los Angeles, California, on March 31, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

ATLANTA (REUTERS) - Actor Wendell Pierce, who starred in HBO's The Wire, was arrested in Atlanta over the weekend and charged with battery after an altercation sparked by differences in opinion about the United States presidential race, police said on Monday.

The incident occurred early Saturday morning after Pierce, a Hillary Clinton backer, got into a political debate with a couple at the Loews Atlanta Hotel, according to an Atlanta Police Department arrest report.

Media reports said the couple supported Clinton rival Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

The police report said Pierce followed the couple through the hotel and tried to force his way into their room, and also that he pulled the woman's hoodie off and hit her in the head.

He denied the allegations, police said, and no one needed medical attention.

Pierce's representatives could not be reached for comment.

On Monday, Rutgers University-Newark said Pierce had withdrawn as the speaker for the school's commencement this week, citing the incident.

Pierce declined to give the address "in order to assure that commencement 2016 will be a celebration of the accomplishments of our students, free from distractions," the school said in a statement, adding that journalist Soledad O'Brien would replace him as speaker.

In addition to his role as Baltimore police detective Bunk Moreland on HBO's critically acclaimed The Wire, Pierce, 52, is also known for roles on television shows including Treme and The Odd Couple as well as the film Selma.

He was arrested early on Saturday and released after posting bond, according to police and jail records.

Media reports said Pierce, whose residence was listed as Pasadena, California, was staying at the Atlanta hotel while shooting a film.