According to the good folks at Hip Hop Wired, “Skinny Suge”, the man who became infamous for single handedly ushering in the ‘Stop Snitching’ movement, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for creating the underground DVDs.
Various published reports say, Ronnie Thomas and 8 others who participated in the creation of the DVD were charged with witness intimidation among other charges.
Police state that the removal of Thomas and others will hopefully send a message to community that not only is crime not tolerated, but the intimidation of the community isn’t either.
According to Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, the intent of the “Stop Snitching” videos was to “try to discourage people from making their neighborhoods safer and to intimidate people. … We’re talking about kids who are destroying each other for no good reason.”
The first video, which surfaced in 2004 and was followed by a sequel in 2007, created not only a movement on the streets of Baltimore, but across the country and even spread to the message in Hip-Hop. Because of the overwhelming response to the film, Baltimore police decided to counter act with a video of their own, entitled “Keep Talking.”
In addition to attention by law enforcement, the videos also attracted the attention of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who used them as a foundation to speak out against the issue of witness intimidation.
Although it seemed as if everyone embraced the movements on the streets, the videos actually damaged the image of city native and Denver Nuggets basketball player Carmelo Anthony, who made a brief appearance on the first DVD.
Two Baltimore police officers whose names were used in the original video, were arrested and convicted of robbery, drug trafficking and firearms offenses and sentenced to 139 and 315 years in federal prison.
Video co-producer of “Stop Snitching 2,” Rodney Bethea, defended them in an interview with The Baltimore Sun in 2007 stating that “People are surviving the only way they know how,” he said then, adding later, “What I’m doing is exposing the social conditions.”
Many including authorities look at Bethea’s statement as an excuse to scare witnesses from trying to protect their neighborhood and family from crime, by issuing the message that they’ll be harmed or killed if they call the police.
It seems that the message is loud and clear, as a young boy on the video states:
“We don’t know who the snitches are, but when we find out, we gonna bust a cap.”
In an interview after Friday’s sentencing, Bealefeld stated that the movie trailer should now be changed to incorporate this caution: Embrace the video’s message “and you will find yourself in federal prison.”