The riots following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black man who died April 19 from injuries while held by police, have spawned an unlikely alliance between the city’s rivaling gangs.
Baltimore police said in a statement that they received information that members of Baltimore gangs—including the Black Guerrilla Family, the Bloods and the Crips—were banding together to “take out” cops. Police warned that this was a “credible threat” to officers.
Alleged members of these gangs, including arch-rivals the Bloods and the Crips, cropped up in photos on social media. Appearing side by side in a march, they said they had negotiated a truce in Gray’s honor, according to The Daily Beast.
Several gang members also spoke to a local Baltimore television reporter outside a meeting with church leaders that they were attending.
“We did not make that truce to harm cops,” one person who claimed affiliation with the Crips said. “We want justice for Freddie Gray…I don’t agree with what is going on,” he continued. “But I understand what’s going on. I understand why people are mad, but we have to handle it another way.”
He dismissed speculation that gang members fanned violence during the Baltimore protests, while conceding that the group could not control every gang member. ”Out of all of the thousands of people, you are going to point to us, because we have colors on?”
Those interviewed described how they marched together, putting their gang affiliations aside. “We are black men united,” one interviewee said.
Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow,” about racial injustice in the US, posted this about the video on her Facebook page:
Listen to these gang members explain why they stand for peace and want to be a positive force for change in their communities. These are the young men that we, as a nation, are so quick to demonize and to destroy. More truth is spoken—and more courage demonstrated—in this short interview than in nearly all the political speeches and media punditry I’ve heard in recent months.
Another video by a Baltimore Sun reporter documented two self-identified Bloods and Crips members, with their arms around each other.
“We don’t want nobody to get hurt. All that about the police getting hurt by certain gangs, that’s false. We not here for that. We here to protect our community, and that’s it. We don’t want no trouble,” said one interviewee, who claimed affiliation with the Crips. “The police department hate to see us right now,” a self-proclaimed member of the Bloods said.
The Bloods and Crips have united over civic causes before, including in Ferguson, Missouri after the police shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.