"Stop Snitching": Perpetuating A Culture Of Violence
The message on this T-shirt is helping to perpetuate a culture of violence in urban communities throughout the country.
From Louisville to Boston, there is a culture of intimidation and fear pervading crime-infested inner cities, and it's being perpetuated through an unlikely source: fashion. An increasingly popular slogan --"Stop Snitching"-- is being slapped across T-shirts everywhere, encouraging silence and reinforcing a cycle of violence.
Some in law enforcement suspect that the growing number of unsolved crimes is related to the increasing popularity of the "Stop Snitching" message. In October 2005, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that two different trials in the city were interrupted by witnesses wearing "Stop Snitching" shirts. But the proprietors of the message have not stopped with T-shirts. They've taken their mantra to the Web, recorded threats on video and even made CDs, and it's all for sale from Pittsburgh to Baltimore.
"That's why the 'Stop Snitching' thing has been so effective, because it literally scared people from going into court."
Speaking Out Against Silence
Cecil was gunned down in 2004, is urging people in her New Bedford, Mass. community to speak out against violence." class="thickbox" rel="image-set">
Phyllis Lopes, whose grandson Cecil
was gunned down in 2004, is urging people in her New Bedford, Mass. community to speak out against violence.
Although the "Stop Snitching" message has been spreading since 1998, law enforcement and victims' families are speaking out against the harmful slogan and urging witnesses to come forward to help make their communities safer.
AMW Senior Correspondent Tom Morris traveled to Kansas City, Mo. in January 2006 and explained during a radio interview just how harmful the message can be in communities already riddled with crime. Kansas City itself is a place where about 40 percent of all homicides in 2005 were still unsolved.
"In the twelve years that I've been with the show, I've seen a significant rise in unsolved cases that come to us," Morris told a HOT-103 DJ during the interview. "I think part of that is because of this culture of, 'Don't tell; let it ride.'"
In New Bedford, Mass, Phyllis Lopes is also taking a stand against "Stop Snitching." Her grandson Cecil Lopes, was killed on Halloween night in 2004, and even though there were people out trick-or-treating, no one has come forward as a witness. In response, Lopes has started her own T-shirt campaign with the slogans, "Keep It Real, Talk About It," "Speak Up, Speak Out," and "Stand."
Keep On Talking
Boston police are hoping that "Stop Snitching" won't interfere with another investigation they are pursuing in the murders of four young men in December 2005. John Walsh and AMW held a press conference with Boston police on Feb. 1, 2006 to discuss growing violence in the city and to encourage people to come forward if they witness a crime.
In Baltimore, police are speaking out against "Stop Snitching" in a unique way. After cuffing several of the thugs who created an underground "Stop Snitching" video, the Baltimore PD released their own video called, "Keep on Talking; We're Listening."
With these efforts and the continued work of victims' relatives, like Phyllis Lopes, witnesses who may be able to help solve crimes will be able to do so safely and without fear of retribution.