Baltimore Police Say Bloods, Crips Agree to Put Turf Wars Aside to Target Cops
The Baltimore Police Department has warned that gangs in the city -- and potentially across the country -- have put aside their turf wars to kill cops in the wake of the in-custody death of a young man.
Freddie Gray, 25, died April 19, a week after his arrest, from a severed spinal cord. He reportedly fled on foot after making eye contact with officers who were patrolling the high-crime neighborhood, and was taken to a police van after being apprehended by officers. That part of the arrest was captured on video, but officials say no video was rolling inside the police wagon. An hour later, Gray was in a coma.
Gray's memorial service was today, and unrest in Baltimore resulted in nearly three dozen arrests over the weekend. Six police officers were reportedly injured.
Photos began to surface on social media of Bloods and Crips united in protest, with red and blue bandanas mingling in the midst of other protesters.
Baltimore police said today that its Criminal Intelligence Unit "has received credible information that members of various gangs including the Black Guerrilla Family, Bloods, and Crips have entered into a partnership to 'take out' law enforcement officers."
"This is a credible threat," the release stressed in boldface. "Law enforcement agencies should take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of their officers. Notification will be sent via NLETS [National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System]. Further information will be sent through appropriate channels. Media is requested to distribute this information to the public and law enforcement nationwide."
Gray's family has appealed for calm. "My family wants to say, 'Can y'all please, please stop the violence? Freddie Gray would not want this.' Freddie's father and mother do not want any violence. Violence does not get justice," his twin sister, Fredericka Gray, said in a statement.
Fans weren't allowed to leave the Orioles game at Camden Yards for a time on Saturday night until the street protests calmed down. In addition to the arrests, a convenience store was looted and police car windows were smashed.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) was at the protests instead of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. He lived for many years in the neighborhood where Gray was arrested.
"I think the thing that upset so many people was the fact that he was a young man, we still don't know exactly why he was arrested; we do know that he was hollering out for aid, he was not given aid after being arrested," Cummings told CBS on Sunday.
"And we also know that he was not seat belted. And the next thing we knew, a week later, he was dead. And a lot of people are very, very frustrated as to trying to figure out what happened here and it's very upsetting."
Cummings said he was at the protests all day Saturday, "and it was very peaceful all day, thousands of people. And then at the end there were a few people who said, we are going to turn this city down, we're going to close it down."
"And the next thing you know we had few people, mainly from out of town, come and to start beating up on police cars, and throwing all kinds of projectiles. But the fact is that, for the most part, it was -- it could have been worse," the congressman added.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told people to go home. "I went on the air and asked people to go home and tell people to email and text their relatives that were down there. And a lot of them left," Cummings said.
"We had the rain that came along, and that helped. But pretty much -- and then we had lot of people in our community, and I got to give credit to the people of Baltimore, a lot of community leaders were in the crowd, saying, this is our house, we will protect our house and asking people not to be violent, because, like I said, it could have been worse."
He called "this whole police community relations situation... the civil rights cause for this generation, no doubt about it."
"This thing here, the cell phone with the camera, this has caused a whole new situation, where a lot of the police interaction with citizens is being recorded."
Cummings said he's satisfied that the Justice Department is investigating potential civil rights violations. "We've got to take this department apart and try to figure out what is wrong and what is right," he said.
About 100 people marched in a pro-police rally in Annapolis on Sunday.
The Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police canceled its monthly meeting scheduled for tonight. "This decision was not made lightly; however, in light of the current situation and the threat information received today, we felt it prudent to cancel."