Baltimore hip-hop artist and anti-gun violence activist Tyree Colion was arrested in Baltimore County yesterday for spray painting a wall with his signature anti-gun violence tag – even after he said he’d been given permission.
Colion drove out to Middle River on Wednesday to spray paint the words “No Shoot Zone” on a wall outside a 7-11 where, one day before, a 13-year-old girl had been fatally shot while sitting with a group of friends. Shortly after Colion had finished his tag, police showed up and detained him. Court records show he was charged with malicious destruction of property.
The rapper had marketed the occasion on Facebook Live as a chance to preach his anti-violence message, and told officers he’d been given permission to spray paint by a 7-11 employee. However, police told him the store was private property and that his actions amounted to vandalism.
“In 30 other neighborhoods, this has never happened,” Colion said in a video preceding his arrest. “I guess this is an introduction to the county, though.”
As he noted, Colion has been placing his “No Shoot Zone” tags around the city for years, unofficially designating those spots as neutral territory and asking gun-toting residents to put their weapons down. Colion took on his campaign after serving time in prison for a second-degree murder conviction from 1992, as well as additional time from a subsequent probation violation. He’s been out of jail since 2012.
A known local hip-hop artist, his music has been featured in “The Wire” and used on two of the show’s soundtracks.
In one of his several videos documenting the placement of the graffiti and his resulting arrest, Colion panned to a set of balloons left outside the 7-11 on Peterson Road in memory of 13-year-old Iyanna Watkins. Police said they believed the Tuesday evening shooting may have stemmed from “an altercation that occurred earlier in the evening between [the girl’s] group and another group.” Two other victims, both adult males, were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
Colion himself recently fell victim to a violent incident: two weeks ago, police said a family member stabbed him in the neck during a domestic altercation. That evening, Colion also took to Facebook Live to broadcast what was happening and impart his anti-violence message, fearing he might not live through it.
“Yo, if I die, it’s all good,” he said. “Keep pushing them zones.”
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