The creator of an underground video, which warned viewers to “stop snitching”, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on June 25 for his role in a racketeering conspiracy.
Ronnie Thomas, 36, of Baltimore, created underground DVDs that discouraged witnesses from reporting crimes to the police. Police said the films contributed to the widespread use of witness intimidation that has allowed crime to persist despite the decline in Baltimore City’s homicide rate.
According to police, Thomas and another man, William Quarles Jr., were part of the Tree Top Piru Bloods gang, which engaged in narcotics trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery.
“To all you rats and snitches lucky enough to cop one of these DVDs, I hope you catch AIDS in your mouth and your lips are the first thing to die,” Thomas, also known as “Skinny Suge,” said in the first DVD, released in 2004. The video also features a boy who appears to be under 10 years old toting a gun, cursing, and smoking while hanging out with much older men. A sequel was released in 2007.
In response to Thomas’ video, Baltimore City police released their own video titled “Keep Talking,” in which they thanked Thomas for making the DVD as it allowed police to arrest other suspects on charges of witness intimidation. In Maryland, witness intimidation has been re-categorized from a misdemeanor to a felony.
“In case you didn’t know, you actually helped to make Baltimore City a safer city,” the speaker on the film said. “Make another video. Go ’head; keep on talking. We’re listening.”
Eight people have been arrested in association with the “stop snitching” movement, and police hope their arrests will send the message that crime and witness intimidation are intolerable.
“We’re talking about kids who are destroying each other for no good reason,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III said, according to HipHopWired.com.
After Thomas’s sentencing, the commissioner said the “stop snitching” DVD should be updated to include a warning to anyone who abides by its message: “You will find yourself in a federal prison.”