Gang members are usually the last people one would expect to come forward and talk to the media–especially when it involves talking about the police. However, that is just what self-professed gang members in Baltimore, Maryland did, in order to set the record straight on supposed plans they had to attack white police officers- in fact, supposedly they said that the gangs intended to, quote, kill “all white police officers.”
Apparently, the Baltimore Police Department received a tip-off that they referred to as “credible information” that suggested that rival gangs within the city were planning to join together in some sort of truce with a common goal: To attack and possibly even kill white cops during the protests and civil unrest that has resulted from the death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed African-American man who died in police custody from a spinal cord injury. The Baltimore police released a statement on this supposed “credible information,” which read:
The Criminal Intelligence Unit received credible information that members of various gangs including the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods, and Crips have entered into a partnership to ‘take out’ law enforcement officers.
Well, the gang members from the gangs referenced in this statement say that this is not true. Some members have, yes, participated in PEACEFUL protests, but they are all adamant that they were not involved in any looting, riots, or violence, and certainly had not formed any kind of truce or partnership in order to “take out” police. One gang member says of the allegations:
We did not come together against the cops. We’re not about to allow you all to paint this picture of us. We got soldiers out here right now that are dirty — we dirty. They threw bombs at us to try and stop what’s going on right now. You all are not about to do that to us.
Another group said that they had decided to stop the gang rivalry during this time in an effort to join the Nation of Islam in peaceful protest of Freddie Gray’s death. Carlos Muhammed, of the Nation of Islam, has praise for the behavior of the gang members during the protests:
I can say with honesty those brothers demonstrated they can be united for a common good. At the rally, they made the call that they must be united on that day. It should be commended.
While many people would say that nothing gang members do should be commended, this is pretty big. People in the know are more than well aware that a cease-fire from gangs is huge. They usually don’t care enough about anything except their rivalries, their debts, their drug deals, and one-upping the man to even lower themselves to help the community. So, Carlos Muhammed is right. This is to be commended.
Another gang member said they all want what the whole community wants, which is Justice for Freddie Gray:
They’re saying we’re animals and we’re acting like savages out here. I don’t agree with what’s going on, but I can understand what’s going on. I understand why people are mad, so we got to handle things in another way.
Yes, that is a gang member calling for peace and justice, rather than violence and anarchy. This goes to show that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.
Yet another gang member said that he had been on a mission to stop looters and rioters from doing more property damage. However, police treated him just like they treat so many black men, as if they are less than human:
We’ve been out here all day trying to prevent people from breaking the stores, (but) they hit us with a bomb, they burned my shirt, they ripped it and we were still standing right there, but we came right back there holding hands together and we march together, we’re still holding strong, and we want them to stop hurting us so we can just live our life and keep going.
That’s just it. The “animals” reference is used so often when police and other white people describe black men, and black people in general. It’s a way to stir up already-present racist fears, in order to make us seem like we are less than human. That is how they can justify harming-and even killing- us so regularly. To people who think this way, we aren’t people at all.
The larger issue here is that, as black men, these gang members knew that they had no choice but to set the record straight. They knew that they would be targeted, and likely executed, by police if there was a belief that they were planning to “take out,” as the police statement read, cops. So, in other words, they broke their own protocol-which is taken very seriously, believe me- to speak out in order to save their own lives, because they had no choice.
It’s pretty bad when gang members feel the need to go to the media and talk about police just to make sure they live to see another day. This alone shows just how broken our so-called justice system is, as does the mounting body count of black men murdered by the very people charged with serving and protecting them.
Watch the media coverage below of the gang members below, courtesy of WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore: