It’s Okay to Snitch

Alex Campbell

In some communities, “snitching” is considered to be worse than murder and sexual assault. Guilty offenders go free because of an adherence to the non-snitching policies found across the globe but especially in the US black population.

Go to any year and any decade in the past 50 years and there will be a controversial Officer-involved shooting or instance of alleged or proven police brutality.

Some groups have outright called Police Officers derogatory names such as “Land Pirate” or “Pig.” Over the years, there has been a gradual degradation of respect afforded to Law Enforcement in any state or territory in the United States. Much like call center workers, some of the anger directed at these officers isn’t directly linked to anything these officers have done wrong. It’s just that law enforcement officers are usually the first people citizens see and as a result, those officers will hear angry outbursts.

One could say that there has been a lack of communication between citizens and law enforcement officers and personnel. Some fundamental misunderstandings need to be rectified if law enforcement officers aim to more effectively do their jobs. If one were to perform a basic internet search there are more than a few articles that are critical of police officers as individuals or as a collective. However, fewer articles detail how citizens can help police officers do their jobs more effectively and to take some degree of responsibility for the things that law enforcement either cannot change or is something that is better left to the citizenry and/or legislation to change.

The Daily Counter will discuss ways that citizens can assist their local and federal law enforcement. There is an argument to be made for the enforcement of certain policies (cannabis-related). However, some laws need to be enforced. Victims need to be able to obtain justice. Violent criminals should face justice. Order in society must be maintained and the only way to achieve this is to promote a healthy relationship between law enforcement and the citizens.

The purpose of this series is to discuss the other side of the story. This publication has been critical of law enforcement officers on an individual basis but this time we will take a look at what citizens can do to help the police and what citizens should not do.

There is NOTHING Wrong with Snitching

This author is a black man that is aware of the anti-snitching sentiments normally found in the US black community.

Several hip-hop artists such as Kimberly Denise Jones aka Lil’ Kim promote such beliefs. While Lil’ Kim is undoubtedly a talented performer and rapper with record sales and awards under her belt she has been a negative influence on young black women in particular. Jones isn’t a bad person. However, since many young women, black women, in particular, look up to her as a role model, unfortunately, she made choices that could be replicated by others.

In 2001, Jones was witness to a shootout at a Manhattan, NY radio station.

Jones didn’t snitch. She wouldn’t give up the names of anyone involved in the shooting. People died and she still wouldn’t tell on anyone. This protection provided by her silence was given despite her history as a victim of abuse. From her teenage into adult years, she dated a man named Shawn Powell. The relationship became long-distance after a few short months because Powell was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison for robbery. Jones and Powell communicated.

She didn’t wait for him to get out. Jones began dating Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls. Many people didn’t realize that Wallace and Jones had a violent relationship. This wasn’t a claim that came only from Jones but this was also echoed by another rapper named Jermaine Dupri who said he once saw Wallace point a gun at Jones. If Jermaine Dupri would have said something to law enforcement at the time then perhaps Kimberly Wallace wouldn’t have experienced as much abuse. Dupri protected Wallace, malice or without, and did so at the expense of Wallace, a victim of abuse.

These revelations came out after the death of Christopher Wallace. His killer still hasn’t been found. Nobody snitched so his killer will likely never meet justice. Kimberly Jones tried to deny justice to another person by not revealing who may have killed a person. The victim of abuse had no problem allowing another family to suffer without justice.

Before someone calls the above assessment unfair there is something to consider.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research published a report in collaboration with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance that centered around “The Status of Black Women in the United States.” The report states that “Survivors of domestic violence and low-income Black women experience heightened risk of criminalization.”

Since Hip-Hop was always meant to represent the poor, struggling, and the working-class person that sentence from the report is what makes Lil’ Kim’s actions questionable. Unfortunately, many black women live in high crime areas. Those same areas are notorious for sexual assault. Many victims have difficulties coming forward with their stories. There is also distrust of police in some black neighborhoods across the US. That means those black sexual assault victims are even less likely to report what happened to them. In the end, Kimberly Jones represents some parts of what is wrong with reporting abuse, violent crimes in general, and, unfortunately, homicide. 

For the police officer who read the news stories about this situation, there could be a sense of frustration. Consider for a moment that there could be some officers who want to chase down bad guys. Yet, even if they know someone is guilty of a crime the administration of justice can often hinge upon the actions of the courts. A rapist such as Brock Turner could get a slap on the wrist. Technicalities, screw-ups by the prosecution, and other factors could let a murderer walk free. See O.J. Simpson for a reference.

There are times where a common citizen will call a police station or their local law enforcement division headquarters and express concern over the details of a controversial case. Even if the person who answers the phone agrees with the citizen there isn’t much that can be done.

Various social movements and harsh penalties for criminal convictions for sexual assault demonstrate that this isn’t tolerated. However, in some families across the US, not just black the community, there is a code of silence. Sexual assault, especially the sexual assault of children, is often swept under the rug. The result of this silencing is that perpetrators are allowed to walk among others without anyone being given a proper warning. Victims can often go years or their entire life without ever getting proper mental health treatment.

It’s almost like a virus. That victim could quite possibly experience psychological damage that could be projected onto friends and family. The perpetrator who never faced justice can harm others. Then those people are damaged as well. In this scenario, someone simply having the courage to speak up, contact law enforcement and stop the cycle of abuse could have prevented people from being harmed.

That scenario is what low-income black women and girls face every day in the US. This is why Lil’ Kim’s actions, or in this case, inaction, was unacceptable and completely unbecoming of a role model for black women and girls.

Since there are a plethora of US and State court cases that have produced questionable results, as many perpetrators and violent criminals must be caught as possible. Some will avoid jail or any significant punishment even if they are guilty of their offense(s). Therefore, to try to catch as many violent criminals as possible there has to be a culture of openness with law enforcement. Even if someone who many would agree is guilty of a violent or egregious offense manages to avoid time behind bars just the record of arrest can be enough to show a pattern.

Many expect honesty from law enforcement which is a reasonable expectation. However, honesty has to come from all sides. Sure, don’t tell the police that you may be stealing cable. Perhaps that isn’t on a cop’s list of priorities. But maybe that shifty fellow with the white van who likes to talk to kids too much could be someone to be concerned about?


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