Members of three Baltimore street gangs came together in unity during Monday’s riots to protect businesses — or at least some of them.
Crips, Bloods and Black Guerilla Family gang members reportedly stood guard in front of some black-owned businesses to protect them from would-be looters and arsonists. Instead, ne’er-do-wells were directed to businesses owned by Arabs and Chinese, according to The New York Times.
Reports began circulating Sunday night that members of the three competing gangs had agreed to a cease-fire in a show of solidarity over the recent death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Gray, who was black, died a week after being arrested on April 12. He suffered a severe spinal injury of unknown origin.
Police believed that the gangs planned targeted attacks on officers. While no officers were shot — as many had feared — at least 15 were injured as looting, rioting and arson gripped the city. (SLIDESHOW: Is This America? Stunning Photos From The Violent, Fiery Baltimore Riots)
“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,” Charles, a Crip, told The Times. “We’re together in this.”
“There is only so far that you can push people into a corner. We’re frustrated and that’s why we’re out there in the streets,” Charles added.
He told The Times that he and members of the Bloods gang quashed their beef and protected black-owned businesses and their owners.
“Instead, he said, they pointed the rioters toward Chinese- and Arab-owned stores,” The Times reported.
The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs filed a similar report.
Phalanx of neighborhood residents standing by black owned business. One points out the liquor stores are Chinese owned
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) April 27, 2015
Some black-owned businesses — which make up about 35 percent of Baltimore’s businesses — apparently knew of the protection that that status could provide. Some posted signs as early as Saturday, which also saw some rioting and looting, notifying would-be looters that they were black-owned.
Sign on window of Jody Davis Designs on Saratoga says "Black Owned." pic.twitter.com/FvhVzukcFe
— Brandon Weigel (@brandon_weigel) April 27, 2015
The woman who runs a studio here in Baltimore told me these "Black owned business" signs were necessary. pic.twitter.com/hsKqZYSjvV
— Andrew Blake (@apblake) April 26, 2015
It is unclear how many businesses in total were looted and destroyed. The Mondawmin mall was the first to be targeted with heavy looting mid-day Monday. A CVS pharmacy was looted and burned later in the afternoon. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Monday and activated 5,000 National Guard troops.