Posted on November 14, 2022

Black Community Leaders Criticize Baltimore Police After Officer Kills ‘No Shoot Zone’ Activist

Lea Skene, Baltimore Sun, November 11, 2022

Five days after local anti-violence activist Tyree Moorehead was killed by Baltimore police, community leaders said the shooting threatens to drive another wedge between Black residents and city officers, reversing recent efforts to improve their relationship.

“How can we continue to build trust if we continue getting shot down in the streets?” said Joshua McLean of West Baltimore-based Faith Empowered Ministries. “The police are supposed to be protecting us.”

Moorehead, a local rapper who was well known in Baltimore for spray-painting “No Shoot Zones” at shooting and homicide scenes, died Sunday after officer Zachary Rutherford fired 14 shots at close range. The officer was responding to reports of a woman being attacked; he arrived to find Moorehead standing over the woman brandishing a large kitchen knife.

“We think it is clear that this officer saved this woman’s life,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said after releasing body-camera footage of the shooting earlier this week. Harrison has overseen the department’s ongoing reform efforts under a federal consent decree meant to address past unconstitutional policing practices.

Since the recent police shooting — the second this year — many community members have questioned why the officer fired so many shots.

Michael Eugene Johnson, who organized a press conference Friday at the Arch Social Club building on Pennsylvania Avenue, said he recognizes that Moorehead’s actions contributed to the outcome.


He noted how the officer arrived on scene with his gun already drawn, then opened fire almost immediately.

For members of the Black community who witnessed the shooting or watched the video, the images are traumatic — the latest depiction of police violence against people of color, Johnson said.


Activists also said they want a federal investigation of the incident, in addition to a thorough internal review from the Baltimore Police Department.

Family and friends of Moorehead have described his death against a backdrop of trauma and escalating mental health challenges. They said Moorehead displayed volatile behavior in recent months, even as he remained dedicated to his anti-violence work.

Activists questioned whether the outcome would have been different if Moorehead were white.