The Myth of Stop Snitching.

From T. Coates:

Marc Fisher, commenting on PG County CO’s refusal to talk about a case in which a suspect was murdered:

…why should bad guys and ordinary citizens pay heed when police and prosecutors lecture them about how it’s their civic duty to come forward with information about crimes? If law enforcement officers won’t think of themselves as righteous whistle-blowers rather than as rats or snitches, how can a system that depends on witness testimony possibly function?

I’ve always loved watching cops, politicians, and moral arbiters invoke the “Stop Snitching” phenomenon as some sort of newly minted explanation for violent crime in the black community. Heavy on nostalgia, advocates of the “Stop Snitching” explanation proffer a mythical, fantastical ghetto where in the halcyon days of yore, it was easy to get witnesses to squeal on the thugs who lived next door. But now we live in the fallen era of black pathology, where criminals tend to act like, you know, criminals and threaten people whose words might send them to jail. When its black people refusing to testify against their neighbors, it’s evidence of cultural collapse. But when its cops or correctional officers–people sworn to uphold justice–refusing to rat on each other in a murder case, well it’s just following union advice.



Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.
  • Tasha

    There’s even a blow up rat obviously a part of the union culture, but this is all supposed to be new?

  • Steve

    None of this is new at all, but it doesn’t make it less bad…. I get a fax a week of a witness getting killed in a new case… these cases just don’t make the news.

    and with the courts beginning to accept “forfeiture by wrongdoing” (if you are connected to a witness death, their deposition and statement can be presented in court despite not being able to cross examine since the person is obviously dead) then people are dying for even less of a damn reason.

    But “stop snitching” is just as much part of the union, the “old boy” network, or anything else…. it can just be linked more often to groups where there is more violent crime.