Amid Violence, Factions and Messages Converge in a Weary and Unsettled Baltimore

Ron Nixon, New York Times, April 27, 2015

The middle-aged woman buried deep in a crowd of protesters near the intersection of North Fulton and West North Avenues held up a yellow sign with black lettering. One side issued a demand: “Stop the lethal force.” The other provided what could be seen as an ominous warning: “Pow pow you reap what you sow.”

All around, not far from the Gilmor Homes, the public housing development where Freddie Gray was arrested before suffering a spinal cord injury in police custody, the battle between chaos and calm raged.


{snip} Several of the ministers, led by the Rev. Ron Owens, convened a meeting with some of the young rioters. While about 50 people sat in pews, six or seven young men went to the front of the church with the ministers, where they laid out their own mix of chaos and calm.

A couple of the young men wore bandannas to hide their identity. The young men identified themselves as members of the Crips, Bloods and Black Guerrilla Family street gangs. One of the Crips members, who called himself Charles, wearing a red Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose T-shirt, said the gang members had taken to the street because “there is only so far that you can push people into a corner.”


Then he described how he and some Bloods had stood in front of black-owned stores to protect them from looting or vandalism. He said they had made sure no black children, or reporters, were hit by rioters. They pointed them toward Chinese- and Arab-owned stores. Charles said Mr. Gray had brought gangs together.

“I rolled over here on a truck, and I was the only Crip and everybody else was Bloods. And they didn’t do anything to me. We’re together in this.”

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