Stop Snitching?

By admin

rhymefestjenemyLast night, I was watching The First 48, a show I usually don’t have time to watch, but on this particular night it had me glued to my seat. A young mother of two was faced with the decision of revealing the location of her alleged murderous boyfriend or being charged with a crime and losing custody of her children. It made me question what do you tell to whom and for what reason? The term snitching in today’s culture seems to be very broad, maybe in fact too broad. While we know that police brutality exists and the judicial system is tilted against blacks and browns, many of our enemies are the same ones promoting the “no snitch” code (real talk).
In this environment, how do we determine which is the lesser of the evils? If someone harms a family member, what is the line between street justice, allowing the judicial system to handle it or a little of both? If the police are unnecessary to approach about crimes in our community, why don’t we know of any community organization that serves the village style justice many of us would seem to prefer. (For example: Who mediates justice for the single mom whose daughter has been molested by the neighbor downstairs? Who does the fifteen year old whose bike has just been stolen by the local gang turn to for help? It’s very easy to say, “don’t snitch,” but how many of us have been faced with real decisions like whether to call the police on the man who beats the mother of his children daily. Yes, in most cases historically, the police have been the enemies of our neighborhoods, in many cases, even the instigators and agitators of the systemic violence. I know personally, that in Chicago, some police officers ascribe to the gang culture that they are supposed to protect us from. The community, however, has failed in policing itself, so now what?
There are some exceptions to telling the police about crimes committed. #1: When you are an accessory to the crime and you get caught, it may be kind of foul to snitch for your own benefit. A legal system that rewards one person and penalizes another for the same crime is not just. #2: Relationships have to be taken into account, when being faced with being a rat. If it’s your mom, child, brother or spouse, that becomes a personal decision that can’t possibly be judged or controlled by standard rules. #3: If at all possible, you can mediate the situation without even having to involve the police. Creating a community group that polices itself is the most preferred way. Agent provocateurs a.k.a. FBI Informants (snitches) of this type of community policing, are not acceptable. The local drug dealer who peddles poison to children may be on his own. Ultimately, until your favorite rapper, church pastor and community organizer is ready to unify, and literally whoop some ass on the street, the police may be the only option. To say stop snitching, and to not give an alternative to the enemy from within is not good enough.

Filed in: Commentary • Tuesday, March 24th, 2009


real talk fest. i agree 100 percent, its a fine line we all walk and its hard for people to understand the difference. it should neighborhoods protectin themselves but most are too broken from coming together for a better cause. too busy tryin to get theirs


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Che Smith is a revolutionary artist, writer, and activist. Popularly known as Rhymefest, the South Side Chicago native has been a trailblazer in music, television, and politics.