Stopping ‘Stop Snitching.’

I’ve been kicking myself for not making this point in my post about the policing of marginalized neighborhoods:

Imagine what it’s like to grow up in a neighborhood where the police look at you, from a young age, as a target or potential enemy. Imagine what that does to your mind, to your conception of yourself. The conservative response to this kind of heavy-handedness is easy to anticipate, “shouldn’t the people in these communities be grateful the police are working so hard?” In fact, this approach to policing urban communities makes it harder for the police to solve crimes.

Much attention has been paid to the “Stop-Snitching Movement” because the t-shirt works as a convenient entry point for discussions black culture as pathological. But the reality is that people don’t talk to the police for two reasons: the criminals live in the neighborhood, the cops don’t–meaning that those who open up have to live every day with the consequences of reprisal. Treating people as though they’re default criminals is the second reason–why speak to the police if they simply assume you’re an enemy on sight? A good rapport between the police in the community–especially younger folks in the community–is essential to solving crimes, which is why this administration is spending so much money on it.


4 thoughts on “Stopping ‘Stop Snitching.’

  1. Jackie August 4, 2009 at 3:45 pm Reply

    In so many ways, the very laws the police are (unevenly) trying to enforce are constructed to alienate and criminalize brown folk as a class of people – going all the way back to Reconstruction and the dawn of anti-loitering, anti-street musician laws. On a side note – been engrossed in The Wire lately – it presents so many points for discussion about this very issue.

  2. Winslowalrob August 4, 2009 at 3:57 pm Reply

    Actually I think a major problem is that the police do the same thing: they don’t snitch on each other, and there are seldom any reprisals for bad policing. You got to set your house in order before you can ask others to do the same, and until I see the breakup of a seige mentality amongst the police, their stop snitching campaign will never work.

  3. Marla Hill August 4, 2009 at 9:31 pm Reply

    I agree with the comments regarding the state of our relationships with the police. However, the “stop snitching” mentality keeps the criminals in charge. So what should we do? I lived in a neighborhood in Stone Mountain where young men were bold and outrageous in their illegal activities, abusive and disrepectful to their neighbors, and creating an atmosphere that endangered everyone else. (After all, a bullet doesn’t always go where it’s sent.) I called 911 regularly, and the thugs moved it to another street. It’s a risk, but where do you draw the line? In all honesty, as a black woman, I fear the police slightly less than I fear the drug dealers.

  4. LaJane Galt August 6, 2009 at 9:00 am Reply

    Winslow-good point about the cops stop snitching lifestyle.

    the criminals live in the neighborhood

    and their friends/associates…and their relatives. Witness intimidation is freakishly underrated.

    A few years ago I was watching, LAPD’s PR show, “LAPD”. A cop was talking to a perp he had just put in the back of the car. The lady who called the cops was in her house, when of the perp’s associates busts in and stabs her in the neck. In front of her family. The cops were right there.

    One thing we have to understand is that there are gradations to involvement and overlapping relationships. Underclass neighborhoods are so contained (for many reasons) that damn near everyone has someone close to them who is doing some type of dirt. It enables the cops to easily swoop everyone up in the same net.

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