United States of Ammunition photographs from Baltimore and Philadelphia.
by Maureen Cain.
In a case of tragic irony, Tyree Moorehead, a graffiti activist who painted the words "No Shoot Zone" in 200+ locations across the city of Baltimore, was shot and killed by police on November 6th of 2022. I visited the site of the shooting a few days after the incident to photograph it for my United States of Ammunition project.
The man in the photograph above was paying his respects to Mr. Moorehead at a pop-up memorial directly behind me when he stopped to ask what I was doing. I told him that I travel the U.S. with painted bullet casings, photographing sites of gun violence. He thanked me for coming to his neighborhood, said he wanted to be in the picture, then jumped in my frame. His purple pants and orange shoes matching my casings was pure serendipity.
Six months earlier, at this very same intersection, there was a mass drive-by shooting where four people were shot and injured. Three people were standing on the corner when they were shot. One person was driving in their car, got shot and continued driving themselves to the hospital. In 2020, a man died by a gunshot wound to the head at this intersection. In 2021, a young woman was wounded by a bullet to the chest at this intersection.
We might associate Baltimore with excessive gun violence, but this frequency of shootings happens in most U.S. cities, even in the City of Brotherly Love and even at the foot of Philadelphia's famous Love sculpture.
In June 2022, a man was found at midnight shot in his car, which had crashed on the street in front of the sculpture. Just down the block two days earlier, a drive-by shooter fired 15 shots from a handgun into a downtown intersection, leaving a young man shot in both arms and one leg.
Across the street, near the iconic Philadelphia City Hall, there have been so many shootings in the last few years that it's hard to pick just one to represent in my photograph. During Father's Day weekend of 2022, for example, there were seven reported shootings in Philadelphia, one was a 23-year-old man found near City Hall with a gunshot wound in the abdomen.
It's not uncommon to have multiple incidents of gun violence in one location. While I was taking pictures in Washington DC recently, there was one site in particular that I wanted to photograph: the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro Station where I heard there had been, on average, one shooting a month between May and October of 2022. But when I did more research, I learned that there had actually been 16 incidents of gun violence at that location in the last two years. It was important to me to memorialize each of those shootings, so I spent the morning arranging and rearranging bullet casings in front of the Metro sign, photographing them 16 times.
Artist & Speaker
Gun violence data from Gun Violence Archive.
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A special thank you to Moms Demand Action volunteers Elaine and Michelle who helped me in Baltimore and Washington DC and to Brian who assisted me in Philadelphia.