Baltimore Police spin news of gangs uniting to protest into ‘credible threat’

“Keeping the public scared of the big black monster keeps some other folks in a job, and shifts attention away from why there are protests and now apparent unrest in Baltimore in the first place…”

by David A. Love theGrio | 4/28/2015, 12:41 p.m.
“Keeping the public scared of the big black monster keeps some other folks in a job, and shifts attention away ...
A Baltimore Police officer aims his taser at a demonstrator outside the Mondawmin Mall following the funeral of Freddie Gray on Monday (April 27, 2015) in Baltimore, Md. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In Baltimore the Bloods and the Crips street gangs are putting down their weapons and are marching together against police brutality. That sounds like a good plan, but the police see it another way.

As was reported in The Daily Beast, the gangs, responding to the death of Freddie Gray by the police, have decided to declare a truce and join the protesters, focusing their attention on, hopefully, fighting a corrupt system and becoming a positive force in the neighborhood.

Society always tells the wrongdoers among us that they need to change their ways and contribute to their communities rather than tear them down and kill one another over dumb stuff. So now they are taking a step in the right direction. That’s how deep things are right now in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore PD does not think this is a good idea. The police department recently tweeted on what it views as a “credible threat to law enforcement,” along with a link to a press release on Baltimore Police Department stationery. The memo reads that the “Baltimore Police Department / Criminal Intelligence Unit has 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. This is a credible threat. Law enforcement agencies should take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of the officers.”

But wait a minute, something does not pass the smell test. How did news of a gang truce in The Daily Beast morph into a police press release about a gang plot to kill cops? This sounds a lot like NYPD reports that the Black Guerilla Family—a Baltimore-based prison gang with a presence in New York—was targeting two Brooklyn precincts following the execution-style shooting of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, two of New York’s finest in December of last year.

Late Monday night, gang members in Baltimore told WBAL reporter Deborah Weiner there was no truce made to “harm cops.” One of the men said plainly to Weiner: “We’re not about to allow ya’ll to paint that picture of us […] We want justice for Freddie Gray. We believe in that.” (full interview here)

Their intention is peace.

One way to undermine these efforts is to vilify and criminalize them. As Malcolm X said, “Once the police have convinced the white public that the so-called Negro community is a criminal element, they can go in and question, brutalize, murder unarmed, innocent Negroes and the white public is gullible enough to back them up.”

This reminds me of the recent statement by Gene Ryan, the Baltimore police union chief, comparing the anti-police brutality protesters in the city to a “lynch mob.”

In his column in the New York Times, Charles Blow called out Ryan. “So, there have been protests. But protests are not the same as a lynch mob, and to conflate the two diminishes the painful history of this country and unfairly slanders the citizens who have taken to the streets,” Blow said. “Maybe Mr. Ryan is unaware not only of the history of lynching and lynch mobs in America overall, but also in Maryland itself.”