Thursday’s Nightly Show episode contains video footage of a meeting in Baltimore between Larry Wilmore and gang leaders in the city. Gang members told Wilmore that — not only do they not condone looting or violence against the police — they actively work to prevent it. But that hasn’t stopped them from getting concussion grenades thrown at them without warning.
Citing the damage wrought by decades of oppressive policies, including poverty and police brutality, Crips, Bloods, and Black Guerrilla members in Baltimore have banded together to find collaborative solutions to the problems facing their city.
“Whoa. You know the cops are running wild when gang leaders start sounding like Noam Chomsky by comparison,” Larry Wilmore quipped on Thursday’s airing of the Nightly Show.
On Wednesday, Wilmore had taken a train to Baltimore, where he met with local gang leaders at a diner.
Wilson began his discussion by asking the group how it came to diplomatic consensus. Was there a “truce or a treaty?” Did it have to be “ratified by Congress?”
If so, that could be a problem, Wilmore warns. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is “kind of an asshole.”
“We didn’t have a truce or a treaty,” a gang member told Wilmore. “We just had men respecting each other as men. Just like that.”
Baltimore gang affiliates clarify that they can’t speak for the entire country, but that the Bloods and Crips in Baltimore are no longer at odds with each other.
“This is what we’re doing. We start with us,” a gang leader at the table said.
Where does anger in Baltimore communities come from, Wilmore wonders aloud.
A gang member explains that there’s “only so far back into this corner that you can push me before I have to push back. That’s what happened.”
Wilmore notes that a lot of people just don’t appreciate the reality of on-the-ground life for low-income people in Baltimore.
Which makes sense to at least one gang member at Wilmore’s table. “If you’re living in a million dollar house,” he inquires, “how can you relate to living in the hood getting pushed? You good. So you can’t understand what we going through. Same as, when you be like, I got to pay my property taxes. I can’t relate to that. I’ve never paid property taxes before.”
Wilmore asks gang members if they’ve interfered to prevent protests from turning violent. The host’s dining colleagues quickly and enthusiastically replied in the affirmative. “They set one police car on fire and we stopped them from setting the other car on fire,” one of the protestors explained.
As evidence, Wilmore’s guests described an interaction they had with police officers several days ago. According to the gang members who spoke with Wilmore, a tank of cops showed up in response to kids engaged in property destruction and “jumped out with assault rifles.”
It was like “Call of Duty,” the gang members said, ‘referencing the popular video game.
Gang members tell Wilmore they talk with police in Baltimore every day to make sure officers have basic provisions, like water.
Wilmore ended the interview by asking them for any larger thoughts they’d like to share with America. The gang members say they’ve been struck by “all the positive people coming together” following the police killing of Freddie Gray.
Gang members encouraged all Americans to “keep their hope” to “stay peaceful” and persistent.
Watch Baltimore gang members advocate collective grassroots governance: