Self-identified gang members stood with the Baltimore City Council at City Hall Tuesday to call for an end to the violence and rioting that broke out across the city Monday.
A gang member who identified himself as “Trey” wore a red bandana on his arm. He and another self-described gang member, who also wore a red bandana, said they were “against the violence” and prevented stores from being looted.
“If we can stick together doing something negative, then we can stick together doing something positive,” the man identified as "Trey" said. “I need a job. Most of the youths need a job. We need help. It ain’t right what people was doing, but you’ve got to understand. Some people are struggling.”
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said politicians, faith leaders and gangs must come together to stop the violence in Baltimore.
“These men have been out on the street quelling the senseless violence that has consumed our city,” Young said.
Baltimore Police said Monday they had received a "credible threat" that rival gangs have teamed up to "take out" law enforcement officers. Police said in a statement that they have received information that members of "various gangs" — including the Black Guerrilla Family, the Bloods and the Crips — have "entered into a partnership" to harm police.
Young called those comments “false” Tuesday.
“After meeting with them today it is clear that the notion they were planning on harming our police officers is false and simply deterred the resources we needed to focus on the individuals who instigated these riots,” Young said. “I applaud these young men for standing here and speaking out for our city.”
After two weeks of tension over the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore descended into chaos on Monday. Roaming gangs of mostly young men clashed with police in the streets, seriously injuring officers, tore open businesses and looted their stocks. Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard, and state police requested as many as 5,000 reinforcements from neighboring states.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instituted a weeklong citywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Tuesday.
Young also apologized for comments he made Monday night in which he referred to rioters as “thugs.”
“What we’re seeing today is not about Freddie Gray,” Young said. “It is about the pain, the hurt and the suffering of these young people. There’s no excuse for them to loot, riot and destroy our city. I made a comment out of frustration and anger when I called our children ‘thugs.’ They’re not thugs. They’re just misdirected. We need to direct them on a different path by creating opportunities for them.”
Councilman Nick Mosby called the riots a “wake-up call” for Baltimore.
“Our city is hurting,” he said. “Our youth are hurting.”