Activist Shorty Davis Confronts Thief and Gets His Smoker Grill Back

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Photo via Shorty Davis

Activist and community grillmaster Duane “Shorty” Davis got his grill back.

Davis confronted his thief on Friday night, using one of his signature Facebook Live videos to put him on the spot.

“This my grill right here, he got a lock on it,” he says with a police officer standing nearby. They’ve arrived at a row house with a gold pickup truck out front with Davis’ massive smoker grill chained up to the back.

The officer says he’ll call for backup. “Call who you want to call,” Davis replies. He later adds, “He unlock my shit, I don’t got a problem.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Ian Duncan reported Saturday that Davis got a tip the night before about his missing grill’s location. The man who stole it evidently wanted $300 for it. Davis cut him a deal instead, offering not to have him arrested if he returned it.

As the man sheepishly walks outside and unchained the grill from his pickup, Davis takes the opportunity to call out the Baltimore Police Department, who he says didn’t helped him to track it down when it was missing for several days. “You should have found my shit, Commissioner Davis,” he says.

Davis has been a strong voice in activist circles in Baltimore for years, speaking at protests against police brutality, white supremacy and other causes. He’s constructed a series of protest toilets, leaving them outside politicians’ offices and TV news stations who he’s accused of corruption or poor ethics.

He’s also fed entire neighborhoods and the homeless. City Paper reported in a profile of him last year that he goes downtown to feed people in economic distress nearly every weekend. The last time he’d seen the grill before it was stolen was last Saturday, where he fed a crowd at one of Shelly’s Helping Hands’ Books and BBQ events in Southwest Baltimore. He’d been serving at that event for eight years, he said.

“We feed the homeless with it, we raise money with it,” he told Baltimore Fishbowl on Friday. “We do a lot of things in the community with the grill.”

Shelly’s Helping Hands had mentioned in a Facebook post that the grill was last seen being chained up to a gold pickup truck. It was carted off from behind the Mary Rodman Recreation Center on W. Mulberry Street on Tuesday. Davis had stored it there while he went to Las Vegas for several days.

Davis’ double-rack smoker grill feeds him too, allowing him to run his roving Shorty’s Bootlegg BBQ stand around the Baltimore area. He mentioned last week that much of the money he brings in goes toward buying more food to keep feeding the masses, oftentimes for free.

“Thanks Baltimore,” he wrote on Facebook around midnight Saturday. “Nothing but love for all y’all.”

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