There is a new phenomenon sweeping this country called the “No snitching campaign” A grassroots campaign to discourage crime witnesses from talking to police. T-shirts and hats with the message “Stop Snitching” have popped up all over the country from cities like LA, Jacksonville and New York. The trend has frustrated police and prosecutors, who say the intent is to intimidate witnesses. The no-snitching message also has been found in the lyrics of rap songs and by the actions of hip-hop artists like Busta Rhymes, who has refused to cooperate with police about the murder of his bodyguard, on Feb. 5th, outside a Brooklyn studio where Rhymes was recording a video with performers such as Missy Elliott and Mary J. Blige. Police say, that although, Rhymes and as many as 50 others may have seen the shooting, no one came forward – an echo of the silence that followed the unsolved murders of rappers Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G. and Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay.
This new campaign of silence in such cases baffles law enforcement and stifles investigations. So, how did we get to this place? The no snitching stigma is an old one that’s been around for years organized crime bosses and drug dealers have used it to intimidate witnesses, see something, shut up or suffer the consequences which in most cases, meant death. The Mafia, however, never took out newspaper ads, or had an unwritten rule printed on thousands of T-shirts.
So, how did we get to this place? We can start with the war on drugs. Over the past two decades, law enforcers have made more drug arrests and turned more defendants into informers than ever before. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the agency that establishes federal court sentencing practices, about one-third of drug trafficking prosecutions involve informers’ “substantial assistance.” That makes them eligible for reduced sentences under otherwise inflexible federal sentencing guidelines. In some minority neighborhoods, the no-snitching campaign is seen as a backlash against people who commit crimes but don’t necessarily do the time because they have ratted on someone else higher up in the chain.
The black community is divided on the issue. Rapper Chuck D. of Public Enemy has blasted the Stop Snitching campaign on the hip-hop group’s Web site: “The term ‘snitch’ was best applied to those that ratted revolutionaries like Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Che Guevara. Let’s not let stupid cats use hip-hop to again twist this meaning for the sake of some ‘innerganghood’ violent drug thug crime dogs, who’ve sacrificed the black community’s women and children.”
It allows criminals free reign to do whatever they want.”
While stop snitching is nothing new, the consequences are more serious.
“I believe it has gotten markedly worse, and if this campaign continues, what can we expect for the future is that the criminals will literally take over our neighborhoods, terrorizing the community? We need to get rid of the thugs and the mindset that snitching on murderers, drug dealers and pedophiles is wrong, and clean up our neighborhoods. How many more children do we want to
see killed by bullets and drugs, or snatched up by pedophiles?