BALTIMORE – Street video producer Rodney Bethea says he hopes to expose urban life and bring about change with a sequel to the infamous "Stop Snitching" that shows a small child waving a large revolver and smoking what appears to be marijuana.
"What I'm doing is exposing the social conditions," Bethea said. "There's a lack of information, a lack of hope and a lack of jobs. They're closing schools and building juvenile jails. I've documented that mentality. Through awareness, I hope to bring forth change."
The first "Stop Snitching" DVD threatened retaliation against those who cooperate with police and highlighted the culture of witness intimidation in Baltimore. The DVD, released in 2004, also created an uproar in part because of a cameo appearance by Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets basketball star and Baltimore native, who has said he wasn't aware of the video's message.
Police, who complained the video could hindered criminal investigations, released their own video, "Keep Talking," in response. Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy also distributed hundreds of copies of "Stop Snitching" as she fought for increased penalties for witness intimidation.
A spokesman for Mayor Sheila Dixon said city officials doubt Stop Snitching 2, which went on sale this week on Bethea's Urly Media Web site, is intended to educate.
"The small portion of the DVD we've seen so far makes it pretty clear that these are not people with the best interests of the community at heart," Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the mayor and the police department, said in an e-mailed statement.
A trailer for the video on the website shows an apparent middle-school boy waving a gun and taking a drag from a joint. A key character in the first video, Ronny Thomas, also known as Skinny Suge, is shown before he pleaded guilty in January to first-degree assault, cursing at Jessamy. A man is also shown firing into the night sky for no apparent reason and another says "what we gonna do on this DVD, we gonna define what snitchin' actually is."
Bethea said the hour-long video is a look at Baltimore street culture.
"This is probably more raw, more graphic than the first one," Bethea said. "It's a shockumentary."
Asked about the sequel, Dixon, who has focused efforts on improving community relations, said she viewed the trailer Thursday and found it "disturbing" and "disheartening."