Baltimore is a city that’s been plagued by a soaring number of homicides over the past five years.
And a local activist recently proposed a controversial solution to stem the violent tide: Pay killers a salary not to commit homicides.
Tyree Moorehead is a reformed shooter himself. The 44-year-old ex-gang member was convicted of a murder he committed at the age of 15 and spent nearly two decades behind bars after being convicted for the fatal shooting.
Now an outspoken community activist behind Baltimore’s “No Shoot Zones,” he promoted his idea of a grant program for those prone to deadly violence while speaking to Fox News 45.
“I can relate to the shooters. Guess what they want? They want money,” Moorehead told the Baltimore news station. “I’ve talked to these people. I’ve seen the shooters, it’s a small city. I know who the hustlers are.”
Baltimore’s violent crime has spiked since Freddie Gray Jr., a 25-year-old Black man, died in police custody in 2015. In 2019, the city saw 348 homicides, a murder rate of 58.6 per 100,000 residents. That put it second nationwide only behind St. Louis’ homicide rate of 64.5.
Baltimore followed that up with 335 homicides in 2020, according to The Associated Press.
Moorehead is a rap artist who performs under the stage moniker “Tyree Colion.” In 2015, he began spearheading No Shoot Zones, an anti-violence campaign that he pushed on Baltimore’s treacherous streets.
Moorehead spray-painted more than 200 No Shoot Zones demarcations at parks, in alleys, on walls and businesses throughout Baltimore, which sought to carve out peace zones in crime-ridden communities.
Moorehead incorporated his own experiences in his sales pitch to the streets. He estimated he shot about 20 people during his wild teenage years between the ages of 13 and 15, according to CBS Baltimore. He said he also had a shootout with the police.
“See, I go straight to the shooters. That’s who my rapport is with. My rapport is with the shooters,” Moorehead told CBS Baltimore in 2019. “I can look them in the eyes and say, ‘Homie, I was shooting, too.’ But, what I didn’t have was a me back then.”
It was not always an easy sell. In the summer of 2017, Moorehead recorded a Facebook Live video moments after he was stabbed in the neck in East Baltimore. He held a T-shirt to his neck to stop the blood and told frantic bystanders, “Yo, if I die, keep pushing them zones,” before falling to the ground and losing consciousness.
According to CNN, Moorehead’s drastic approach is one that has precedence. The idea was of paying shooters was successful in Richmond, California, where police identified the likeliest perpetrators and victims of gun violence and started giving them a monthly stipend up to $1,000 to keep their guns muzzled. Firearm homicides plummeted 76 percent after the program started in 2009, according to Richmond’s Office of Neighborhood Safety.
Despite the possible curb on violence, Baltimore officials were leery of implementing such a program in their city. Former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith agreed with the need for outside-the-box ideas but balked at Moorehead’s idea.
“This speaks to the desperation that we all have.” Smith told Fox News 45. “It could make it easier for people to get their hands on guns because they now have an influx of a different level of cash.”