Bloods and Crips say a truce formed a year ago continues to inspire them to reduce violence in the city as they look to the past to help fix the future
On 27 April 2015, as police car burned and pharmacies were looted, Bloods and Crips helped usher civilians and journalists to security. They had formed a truce, “theyre saying”, to help save their communities.
Over the next week, as riot police lined the streets, some were more afraid of cops than they were of Bloods or Crips. The gangsters were appearing on national television, meeting with legislators, and working with community organizations.
As the city eased back into a new normal that included a record of 344 homicides in a city of only 625,000, some of these gangsters say they were inspired by the truce during this uprising to try and stop the killings.
Its based around police. People stop focusing on killing each other and focusing on the real problem its the police, and its not just in Baltimore, its everywhere else. You get police actually literally gunning us down, said a Blood, Robert Wolfe, who goes by Big Wolfe.
But gangsters will tell you otherwise. A year after Grays death, they say they are still utilizing the truce formed that day to decrease violence.
I gotta stay in tune with the street. Im a Blood Ill has become a Blood until the working day I succumb, told Wolfe. I dont gang-bang no more. I promote something different, I promote peace. And right now its not a lot of peace in Baltimore.
Wolfe and activist Davon Neverdon, who goes by the name PFK Boom, formed a group called 300 Gangstas to reach the most hazardous people in the city. The name is a reference to the movie 300 The gangstas are the Spartans and the police are Persians, Wolfe said and a riff on the local 300 Man March, a city motion to combat the violence in Baltimores streets, which Wolfe dismisses as ineffective police shit.
Wolfes vision, though inspired by last Aprils uprising, is rooted in an older opinion of the world before the epoch of fissure and mass incarceration, when gangs policed themselves.
300 Gangstas is basically, when I was coming up in neighborhoods, the older cats were the crooks who operated the neighborhood. They was the ones who maintained the neighborhood in line, kept the youngsters in check, they the ones who operated the neighborhood, he said. Right now, you dont have that no more. Everyone only doing what they wishes to do. Thats why it is the way it is right now everythings in an uproar … There was a protocol you had to follow, you had regulations you had to follow and the ones who ran the hood was the gangsters.
Wolfe says that eventually the older guys who operated the neighborhoods all get lock the door and couldnt guide the youth anymore.