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Charles Village crime spree unrelated to Baltimore gang activity

By NASH JENKINS | October 25, 2012

The past month has seen an increase in crime targeting Hopkins students in Charles Village, according to reports filed by Campus Safety & Security. These incidents, officials said, are unrelated to a concurrent uptick in gang activity in Baltimore.

Campus Safety & Security’s Weekly Incident Reports, which are available on the office’s website, describe five reported incidents of violence and theft directly involving Hopkins undergraduates and graduate students between Sept. 19 and Oct. 14.

On Sept. 19, a Hopkins graduate student reported that six male juveniles accosted him on the corner of 31st Street and Guilford Avenue. One, he said, struck him across the nose with an open hand.

Ten days later, two Hopkins sophomores reported that three males and three females, all around the age of fourteen or fifteen, approached them on the north end of Wyman Park Dell and, making threatening remarks, struck one of the undergraduates with a tree branch.

“My roommate and I were just hanging out in the park on a Saturday night and we noticed some people congregated near the trees up by the dell,” sophomore Andrew Delman, one of the two undergraduates assaulted in Wyman Park on Sept. 29, said. “They came up to us and started harassing us — one sat down next to [my roommate] and put his hand on his leg, and another said something like, ‘You have 10 seconds to get off our turf.’ When we tried to walk away, they stopped us and felt our pockets — I guess to see if we had our wallets, our cell phones, whatever. And then I feel this crack against the side of my head, and I realize that he’d hit me with a branch, like it was a club.”

On Oct. 3, two young men stopped two Hopkins undergraduates on the 3000 block of N. Charles Street. The suspects — both of whom, according to reports, were African-American, in their late teens and clad in red t-shirts and jeans — proceeded to punch one of the undergraduates and take the backpacks and cell phones of both.

A week thereafter, a Hopkins graduate student was walking eastbound on the 200 block of West 31st Street when two young men in their early twenties punched him and pushed him to the ground, demanding his wallet.

On Oct. 14, a female undergraduate walking southbound along St. Paul Street near the intersection of 31st while talking on her cell phone was approached by a man from behind, who took her cell phone.

In nearly all of the reported incidents, the suspects were adolescents or young adults who did not operate alone.

In a report last week, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts stated that the Black Guerrilla Family — an African-American gang with ideological roots in Marxist ideals and a Garveyist contempt of the United States government — has in past months attempted to extend its clout in the Baltimore area, sponsoring much of the recent violence in the city.

The region is no stranger to the Black Guerrilla Family. In July 2010, ten presumed members of the gang were indicted in Baltimore for an array of crimes committed in both federal prisons, where the Family first gained traction in the 1960s, and on the streets.

“I was told that what they’re doing is expanding and taxing other gangs, basically franchising out,” Batts told The Baltimore Sun on Oct. 16. “If [those gangs] don’t want to franchise out, it leads to conflict, and that’s been part of the problem in areas that are spiking.”

The Sun’s coverage of the gang’s recent expansion draws from the results of a comprehensive investigation by the Baltimore police.

The swell of activity, however, has yet to reach Charles Village. According to Lieutenant Mark E. Long of Campus Safety & Security, no gang-related instances in recent history have implicated or otherwise involved Hopkins affiliates.

“There is no evidence that these cases involved gang members,” Long wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “We continue to stay in contact with the Baltimore Police robbery investigators about these cases. However, there are no new developments.”

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