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To Snitch or Not To Snitch: That Is The Question
December 11, 2007 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Stop Snitchin' may be the hidden link between hip hop and the 1980s alternative rock group, House of Freaks. According to the New York Post, journalist Ethan Brown has accomplished "making the Stop Snitching movement seem reasonable" in his new book Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice. Brown argues that harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses have created a "cottage industry of cooperators" and informants who fabricate evidence, because Provision 5K1.1 of federal sentencing guidelines gives leniency in exchange for "substantial assistance to authorities." According to Brown, two of these criminal cooperators included Ray Dandridge and Ricky Gray, the perpetrators of the Richmond spree murders that ended the life of Brian Harvey of House of Freaks, his wife, and his two children. On the other hand, Mark Kleiman argues that the Stop Snitchin' movement has driven homicide clearance rates so low that, in some cities, "you have a better than even chance of literally getting away with murder." posted by jonp72 (61 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a bad thing. No matter what, citizens should not be made afraid to tell the police about crimes which they know about.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:34 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice post, jonp72

When I was a younger man, Kleiman used to infuriate me. He was always so close to being right, but always seemed to me to draw conclusions that were just short of right. I always felt that he was smart enough to know what the right thing was, but was selling out by recommending the politically palatable options in an attempt to secure ongoing research funding.

As I get older though, I find that I agree with him more and more. The pragmatic approach that I once found so infuriating, now seems to be a much more reasonable -- in fact, even a more radical approach. I'm reminded of a comment I read by Slavok Zizek in the London Review of Books recently, in which he said that extreme demands actually supported the status quo, as politicians are able to nod sagely and say, 'of course, we'd like to do what you suggest, but the political reality makes it impossible.' More radical, according to Zizek, is to keep on pushing with a continuous stream of reasonable and achievable demands, and that seems precisely what Kleiman does over and over again.

The idea that people from poor communities would swear off informing on the basis of some misguided sense of solidarity on the very people who are preying on that community seems to me to be the most misguided kind of activism -- almost a kind of Copenhagen Syndrome -- and while I understand all to well why it happens, its a tragedy that people aren't able to transcend that bullshit and embrace a less corrosive and victim-centered form of political activism.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:40 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Previously.

Also: Skinny Suge says STOP FUCKIN SNITCHIN
posted by dhammond at 5:40 PM on December 11, 2007


A word of enthusiasm here also for Ethan Brown's previous book, Queens Reigns Supreme. It may be the best book on hip hop I ever read. Definitely top three.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:42 PM on December 11, 2007


stop snitchin'? stop gangsterism
posted by pyramid termite at 5:44 PM on December 11, 2007


embrace a less corrosive and victim-centered form of political activism.

I think you are misreading the circumstances about why folks don't snitch. Sure, if you're friends with a drug dealer, of course you're not going to snitch on him. That's true whether you live in the ghetto or the Hollywood Hills. But "Stop Snitchin'" isn't really about that -i it's about instilling fear. It's not activism in any way...it's simply covering your ass because the PoPo certainly ain't gonna do it.

The Angela Dawson case is pretty much at the top of the list of why people don't report these crimes, in Baltimore, at least.
posted by dhammond at 5:47 PM on December 11, 2007


"citizens should not be made afraid to tell the police about crimes which they know about."

"Snitches" are not usually citizens. The people being told to "stop snitchin'" are usually those in the drug game who get busted, then cooperate in exchange for a lighter sentence.

wikipedia: "This threat is especially directed towards those who inform on others to get a lighter sentence for their own crimes."
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:47 PM on December 11, 2007


"...because Provision 5K1.1 of federal sentencing guidelines gives leniency in exchange for "substantial assistance to authorities."

Ah. So. Salem Witch Trails. The current judicial system and political administration has set us back about four centuries. Cool. So when do we start burning alleged drug pushers at the stake? Cuz the networks need some decent entertainment on prime time.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:49 PM on December 11, 2007


while I understand all to well why it happens, its a tragedy that people aren't able to transcend that bullshit and embrace a less corrosive and victim-centered form of political activism.

You are a champ, Peter Mac. I copy'n'pasted a recent post of yours in an email to a Scouse fella I met on the 'net and all his Scouse friends. I pretended I was the author.

Hilarity ensued, considering a lot of it was "when I was living there…" type stuff. But he went on to say that it was the best, most precise summary he'd ever read on what has happened to his area. He did have one complaint that you didn't blame Thatcher enough.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:51 PM on December 11, 2007


Ah. So. Salem Witch Trails. The current judicial system and political administration has set us back about four centuries. Cool. So when do we start burning alleged drug pushers at the stake? Cuz the networks need some decent entertainment on prime time.

When? Well, this provision does date back to 1987, so...maybe not all that soon?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:55 PM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I snitch. Small time dealer gets busted. I get shot, possibly killed.

Fantastic deal.
posted by absalom at 5:57 PM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


wikipedia: "This threat is especially directed towards those who inform on others to get a lighter sentence for their own crimes."

With all due respect to Wikipedia (and their source), that's pretty much bullshit. People are slinging vials in full view of the general public, many of whom silently wish they'd go away. How many of these folks are just going to call the police (as a concerned citizen) and get them locked up without consequences from the dealers? It just doesn't work like that.
posted by dhammond at 5:57 PM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oops...I quoted the wrong part of the quote!....This was the part I was trying to call out:

"Snitches" are not usually citizens.
posted by dhammond at 5:58 PM on December 11, 2007


ZachsMind is onto something here.

I have no love for drug dealers -- of the violent sort, anyway -- but "reduced punishment in exchange for cooperation" is just a recipe for witch hunting. Most of us probably don't care, as constant police-interrogations and lengthy prison sentences are something that rarely affects white middle-class life (for now, anyway), but the lure of a reduced sentence can very easily make people say things that aren't true.

The same thing goes for torture, actually: People will say anything to make it stop, or to make it not happen. If spending 20 years in the state pen is equivalent to torture (and at some level, I think it certainly is), then doesn't it stand to reason that even an average person like you or I would implicate anyone to keep from going?

And the truth is, prosecutors don't care if the person who actually pulled the trigger goes to jail. As long as somebody takes the fall, and the city's crime statistics get improved by the next round of elections, they'll be content with the outcome. Eventually, it creates a sort of Inquisition -- where some criminals do get caught and are punished, but so do a great many innocent or less-guilty people as well.

It may be that the Stop Snitchin' campaign has such a groundswell of support because people are afraid of accusations from others more than they're afraid of their local crack dealer.
posted by Avenger at 6:01 PM on December 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


And, yes, at least in the context of my personal experience, the snitches are citizens. It strikes me as both implied threat (because we will fuck you up) and social criticism (and no one is going to do shit about it).
posted by absalom at 6:01 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Again, I know anecdotal evidence is not much to go on, but I think it trumps fantastical evidence. The idea that this is some sort of crusade against prosecutorial misconduct is absolutely absurd. It is clearly a campaign of intimidation directed against the citizens and FUD against law enforcement (made an easy target by their perceived, and sometimes actual, apathy or hostility).
posted by absalom at 6:09 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no love for drug dealers -- of the violent sort, anyway -- but "reduced punishment in exchange for cooperation" is just a recipe for witch hunting.

Uh...was it somehow better when we were talking about mafioso and this was called "turning state's evidence," though?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:16 PM on December 11, 2007


I was reading the LA Times murder blog the other day, and it said that the cclear rate for homicides there was at 39%. That's pretty horrific, if you think about it.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:18 PM on December 11, 2007


The idea that this is some sort of crusade against prosecutorial misconduct is absolutely absurd.

or even that it's a means of significant and meaningful social rebellion

in my town, a 14 year old sitting on a porch was shot from a sports utility van by a person who has now been convicted of murder - there were several people in the van with him and friends and family of the defendant made direct threats on myspace and in person to the point where the judge had to clear out the courtroom, so the witnesses could testify without being harassed and stared down by people who didn't want them to "snitch"

it's my belief that these people should have been charged with witness intimidation and jailed

that's what the kids - yes, they're pretty much all kids - define as "stop snitchin" = "i can shoot anyone i fucking like and you'd just better keep your mouth shut about it"

fuck that
posted by pyramid termite at 6:19 PM on December 11, 2007 [7 favorites]


No matter what, citizens should not be made afraid to tell the police about crimes which they know about.

I assume you are assuming that the police are not prosecuting people for moral reasons, e.g. possessing narcotics. At that point, I think we all should be encouraged not to cooperate.

Another casualty of the drug war = people afraid to talk to police b/c someone might get in trouble for something that shouldn't be a crime.

How many people do you think "stop snitching" would affect if drugs were legal and we were talking about homicide?

Less.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:20 PM on December 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


That said, I was actually a big House of Freaks fan. ............ such a sad story.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:26 PM on December 11, 2007


pyramid termite: Oh, I hope no one gets the impression that it's *meaningful* rebellion, only that it's anti-authoritarian. Should have been more clear. It's the most depressing thing I've encountered to date in my short life, but I wonder how you'd begin to fix it.
posted by absalom at 6:32 PM on December 11, 2007


...was it somehow better when we were talking about mafioso and this was called "turning state's evidence," though?

I think the difference here is that Mafioso's crimes were not victimless, but with the drug war, we have a huge incentive mechanism for thugs to lie to prosecutors in exchange for leniency.
posted by jonp72 at 7:42 PM on December 11, 2007


No matter what, citizens should not be made afraid to tell the police about crimes which they know about.

No matter what, I try not to talk to the police.
posted by telstar at 7:46 PM on December 11, 2007


Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible essentially to drive this point home. He wrote it in response to the political climate in the 1940s and 1950s. The Red Scare was a time in this great country of the USA when some Americans would implicate friends and associates as communist sympathizers in order to prove their own patriotism. Whether it was true or not.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:55 PM on December 11, 2007


I've always taken The Crucible as a condemnation of hysteria and not a polemic against witness cooperation, but that's neither here nor there...

I think it's a bit foolish to throw the baby out with the bathwater by completely condemning the practice of leniency for cooperation. It's all about how it's applied. Unfortunately, the fact is that the drug war has a history of applying it badly. When you are legitimately trading up to get a bigger fish, it's an incredibly powerful tool. In practice, the problem is that the person who gets the most time is sometimes the person with the least amount of knowledge. If you're the wife of a drug dealer and you don't know the big fish, you can't really trade up.

I'm certainly not an expert on criminal justice, but it seems that provisions like 5K1.1 need to be enacted with reality check, with an eye towards justice and not just statistics.

Anyway, it's a shame that we're even having this discussion. Decriminalizing drug use takes a lot of these problems off the table. I'd love, just once, to hear a rationale explanation as to why we're locking up so many users and small-time dealers and why that's good for us as a society.
posted by dhammond at 8:14 PM on December 11, 2007


I think the difference here is that Mafioso's crimes were not victimless, but with the drug war, we have a huge incentive mechanism for thugs to lie to prosecutors in exchange for leniency.

That's not an argument against criminals turning informant, though. That's an argument against prosecuting people for victimless crimes. If I thought everyone who turned informant were a violent criminal who was shortening his own sentence by turning in basically harmless pot dealers, that might be different. But I doubt that's the case.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:15 PM on December 11, 2007


That's not an argument against criminals turning informant, though. That's an argument against prosecuting people for victimless crimes. If I thought everyone who turned informant were a violent criminal who was shortening his own sentence by turning in basically harmless pot dealers, that might be different. But I doubt that's the case.

I agree with you, but the scenario you just described might actually be the reality in some neighborhoods. It's not the neighborhoods I grew up with, but in some really crime-ridden areas where the basic rule of law is totally non-functional, that may be the reality. I'm not saying I agree with "stop snitchin." It's just the articles made me think about some of the motives that lie behind it.
posted by jonp72 at 8:23 PM on December 11, 2007


I agree with you, but the scenario you just described might actually be the reality in some neighborhoods. It's not the neighborhoods I grew up with, but in some really crime-ridden areas where the basic rule of law is totally non-functional, that may be the reality. I'm not saying I agree with "stop snitchin." It's just the articles made me think about some of the motives that lie behind it.

I don't think it's a simple situation, either; I just don't think we can afford to leap from "well, this may be misapplied" to "well, this is bound to be misapplied." I mean, in all seriousness, nothing, ever, will work in an area where the basic rule of law is totally non-functional. If we work from the presumption that justice is screwed there anyway, we may as well just toss up our hands and go hit the bar.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:36 PM on December 11, 2007


Well, since no one else has mentioned it, just watch The Wire and everything in this post will become crystal clear.
posted by dhammond at 8:39 PM on December 11, 2007


DHammond: "I've always taken The Crucible as a condemnation of hysteria and not a polemic against witness cooperation, but that's neither here nor there..."

Actually no that's the crux of the issue at hand. Hysteria and ignorance often leads to misinformation and a breakdown of justice due to that misinformation. This is how Abigail goes from an innocent little girl to the leader of a mob of crazy people. She is the key witness and she fills the judicial system with misinformation.

Arthur Miller wasn't just condemning hysteria. He was condeming the process that generates that hysteria, and with this whole snitch don't snitch quagmire? You're looking at it right now. You're looking right at it, and you don't recognize it. That's how this works. Evil is very subtle...

Crow: ...I hate to burst your bubble, Joel, but what about the bubonic plague? World war? Stalin?
Joel: Well, those are all big things. Hell works better when it's a lot more subtle. Here, I'll give you an example. Okay, Crow, what do you think of Adolf Hitler?
Crow: Well, I hate him, naturally.
Joel: Right. Now, what do you think of the band Styx?
Crow: Well, they had one or two decent...Oh my God, you're right!
Tom: I get it now, Joel! I'm not certain when Hell started for me, but I think it has something to do with Christopher Cross...

posted by ZachsMind at 8:42 PM on December 11, 2007


Whooops!

I said: "Hysteria and ignorance often leads to misinformation and a breakdown of justice due to that misinformation. "

SCRATCH THAT! REVERSE IT!

What I meant to say was that ignorance and misinformation often lead to hysteria and a breakdown of justice: i.e., mob mentality.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:44 PM on December 11, 2007


..that's what I get for typing faster than I can think. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:45 PM on December 11, 2007


Hysteria and ignorance often leads to misinformation and a breakdown of justice due to that misinformation.

Agreed, but there are many, many legitimate instances of police cooperation that do not involve hysteria or ignorance. The fact is that when are not "snitching" they're doing it for their own self-preservation. I think choosing to snitch or not to snitch is a separate issue from what you're positing. The dynamics of this discussion pretty much begin and end at witness intimidation. It's not about the police as much as it is about the criminals and the power that they hold over the police.
posted by dhammond at 8:47 PM on December 11, 2007


Damn, you ZachsMind!

*shakes fist*
posted by dhammond at 8:48 PM on December 11, 2007


To take a step back for a minute (and to address ZachsMind's point), it seems like Ethan Brown is conflating several issues. A criminal "snitching" for a reduced sentence is pretty much completely separate from a citizen "snitching" on criminal activity. Though both activities are acknowledged by the same term, they are not the same. At all.

As a society, we need to address the problems related to misguided sentencing in relation to police cooperation and we need to address the problem with the fear of witnesses to come forward. These problems likely require wholly different solutions.
posted by dhammond at 8:59 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, theorizing about the reasons and whys and wherefores of the "Stop Snitching" movement is very nice and all, but you know, in the end the point is moot. Because no matter how much you argue the roots are in trading big fish for little fish, the reality is the movement is now used to justify targeting innocent witnesses who are not partners in the crime but simply watched it happen. By putting the fear of death into residents of their territories, violent, drug-slinging trash can continue their might-makes-right rule over urban ghettos. Adjusting investigative methods and informant policies is certainly needed, but all of those changes are not going to address the raw terror that's been instilled in those communities.
posted by schroedinger at 9:13 PM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


All I know is I'm with the stop snitchin people on some of this stuff. I just want nobody to end up like these guys.
posted by Rubbstone at 10:00 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know I think some of this problem arises directly form the adversarial nature of the Justice system. Against the community not simply against the individual. It is almost like law enforcement is something that happens to a community not happens within a community. Its really an open question are these the people who are appropriate to enforce the law? People with no connection and additionally no sense of justice.
posted by Rubbstone at 10:34 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Snitches" are not usually citizens. The people being told to "stop snitchin'" are usually those in the drug game who get busted, then cooperate in exchange for a lighter sentence.

I beg to differ. Although they are often persons arrested who agree to cooperate, such status is not relative to their citizenship status. These persons are generally full United States citizens.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 PM on December 11, 2007


Regardless of the problems with the justice system, it is morally wrong and socially dangerous for any campaign to reduce cooperation with the police.

Even if the campaign targets those arrested criminals who cooperate with police, it is likely that some non-criminals will be intimidated. This is unacceptable and I submit that a society that allows this for any sustained length of time may be fatally weakened.

Regardless, if factual testimony gets the guilty off the streets, I am for it as long as the rights of the individual suspects were not violated.

The only morally acceptable method dealing with any problems with the justice system is through our own political efforts, as voters, citizens and activists.

So few people actually take the time to really find out about police work or even to interact with the police in order to let their preferences regarding law enforcement issues known.

We get the system we deserve.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:00 PM on December 11, 2007


He did have one complaint that you didn't blame Thatcher enough.

Ah yes, the stock reply of the Liverpool left. Thatcher did it all to us.

Not sure how this sits with the simultaneous argument though, that Liverpool was the centre of resistance to Thatcherism. Our glorious Trotskyite city council were the only people ever to induce a Thatcherite U-turn when their refusal to set a budget led to additional funds from central government. Unfortunately, they couldn't resist triumphantly boasting about it in the media, and so when they tried the same trick the following year, what they got was classic Thatcherite 'fuck you'. Following that up with redundancy notices to *all* of the local teachers pretty well pissed off the rest of the electorate and that section of the non-aligned left that hadn't already gotten tired of their Stalinist bully-boy tactics.

But we hate to take responsibility for our own part in this, and so we always make with the glib, 'Margaret Thatcher did it'. Thatcher didn't close our docks -- the city's main industry. They were long gone by the time she arrived in power. And she played no part in our disasterous industrial relations during the attempt to switch from a dock based economy to one based on industrial manufacturing.

The reality is, Thatcher was as much a symptom as a cause. While she facilitated the flight of production overseas, she didn't actually cause it. Particularly in Liverpool, where intrangisent and indefensible labour practices just made the cost of doing business here indefensible. Want to change a lightbulb on the shop floor? For that, you'll need an electrician, an electrician's mate and an apprentice. Can't the electrician carry his own tools? How many tools does it take to change a light bulb after all? No. You're doing a man out of a job. Well, how about if the manager just does the damn thing himself rather than wait the three days for a spark to get around to it? OK, that's it. All out on strike. I exaggerate slightly, but not much. I had an uncle who was a union convenor at British Leyland's Triumph plant during the 60's, and this is exactly how he was. At the time, I bought it all hook, line and sinker. I understand how we got to such a place, and how it was a reaction to being fucked over so many times. But with hindsight, it's difficult not to acknowledge the role that we played in fucking ourselves. If I were an industrialist, would I invest in an area with such an expensive, intransigent workforce? Not in a zillion years.

And our resistance to Thatcher was about the same stuff. We'd rather die on our feet than live on our knees. So at a time when the budget is squeezed dry, our city council borrows zillions to embark on a programme of building thousands of council houses. Borrows the money from Zurich at exorbitant interest rates. Not caring about how its ever going to be paid back. Consequently, property taxes rise, the middle class leaves to buy homes in adjacent areas, the schools continue to spiral downwards. etc.

All of which seems like a derail, but it isn't really, because I see huge parallels between the problems that Liverpudlians faced, and the problems of urban black Americans. We've also got a large underclass. We also like to attribute the growth of a huge local drug dealing industry to the government and lack of economic opportunity. We also buy into disasterous political rhetoric, sold to us as resistance but that actually hurts the poor and disenfranchised far more than it helps them. Things have changed since the early 80's, and we've got pretty much full employment today, but the dealers are still slinging, and the users are still using.

The reality is, despite the rhetoric about this being a complaint against prosecutorial misconduct, the people who are snitching today -- those facing ludicrous, almost life-sentences due to mandatory minimums -- are still going to keep snitching. The threat of violence has always been a factor for such people, and they decide to snitch because they recognize it's the rational thing to do in the circumstances.

So this is inevitably a call for those people who are law-abiding members of the community to effectively collaborate in the defence of those who prey on them. And the embrace by the wanksters of gangster rap means lots of dumb young people will buy into it. Because the system is unjust, it seems to have a certain legitimacy -- particularly to the young and naive -- but it's a fundamentally regressive, reactionary and anti-social form of political activism that's grounded in defeatism. If the problem is prosecutorial misconduct, then attack that. If the problem is mandatory minimums, then attack those. Is it that you think those issues are too big to tackle? To difficult to achieve change on? Well, that's why I accuse you of defeatism. Where would we be if people had taken the same attitude towards civil rights in the 60's?

It's also a strategy that's inevitably doomed to failure, because it's impossible to build a left consensus around such a campaign. All it does is condemn the politically and socially marginalized to be collaborators in their further political and social marginalization. It's indicative of a failure of the intellect and imagination of todays American activists and an ongoing tragedy.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:13 AM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's not activism in any way

Re-read the post. Ethan Brown is certainly couching it in those terms -- as a form of community resistance to an unjust criminal justice system. The ACLU also held a Stop Snitching Conference in Atlanta last year that featured other people who were seeking to frame the meme as a form of activism.

Here's a bunch of activists
at a recent Drug Policy Foundation conference also seeking to frame it in those terms.

I agree that it isn't sensible or meaningful activism though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:04 AM on December 12, 2007


Dudes' just got to befriend the charmingly disheveled addict with the white boy friend and get friendly with the shotgun-wielding scar-faced trickster. It works! I have proof!
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:04 AM on December 12, 2007


Dudes' just got to befriend the charmingly disheveled addict with the white boy friend and get friendly with the shotgun-wielding scar-faced trickster.

You are Avon Barksdale and I claim my five pounds.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:15 AM on December 12, 2007


Jesus Christ, Peter Mac, wait till him and his buddies get THAT email from "me". What a great post.

He's just filled me in on the whole Smigger Smith / accidental shooting of the young lad wot name eludes me right now / someone grassed on the boy's killer in the comments section of youtube.com saga.

Quite interesting. Watched a bit of the Liverpool gangs movie "Shooters" the other day. Have almost nothing to do with that city. Funny how we've struck up an internet friendship.

/Sorry 'bout the (semi) derail, folks.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:52 AM on December 12, 2007


When did we join the cast of Wire and start dividing into Citizen and non-Citizen?
posted by srboisvert at 3:20 AM on December 12, 2007


Shooters was great, uncanny. Most of the guys who played gangsters in that movie were actually real gangsters. (OK, club doormen -- but that amounts to the same thing in many cases.)

If you're in any way interested in our wonderful Liverpool mythology, I'd also commend for your watching pleasure everything by Alan Bleasdale, but particularly Boys from the Blackstuff - the definitive political drama of the Thatcher era, and also GBH, which was based loosely on Derek Hatton, one of the leading members of our Trot city council.

Seeing the volume of Bleasdale material now on YouTube, perhaps I'll do an Alan Bleasdale FPP.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:32 AM on December 12, 2007


Seems like a good place to point out that in Richmond itself, violent crime is way down and the clearance rate for murders is something like 70%. The popular police chief Rodney Monroe credits community involvement as a key to this. (Even the hookers are happy.)
posted by john m at 3:36 AM on December 12, 2007


Also: Here's Kevin Sampson on the whole Smigger Smith saga which I think highlights some of the parallels between the issues here in Liverpool and those in US urban communities. When I was a kid, I grew up in an area that regarded Norris Green as extremely affluent because the houses there had gardens, bathrooms, hot water plumbing, etc. As he says, in those days, the streets had one bad family that nobody else would speak to. Today, the few families that struggle to obey the law in those areas are victimized by an ever-present sense of menace from these kids.

Also, a story on the Rhys Jones 'snitching'.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:27 AM on December 12, 2007


You want to stop open drug dealing? You flood the streets with cops. They stop all the thugs whom they suspect of drug dealing and search them, sans warrant. They find drugs or a weapon, they confiscate and beat the shit out of the punk, no arrest. Rinse, repeat. It's sort of the opposite of community policing, and illegal, but the community has failed in Baltimore.
posted by caddis at 6:34 AM on December 12, 2007


Ironmouth wrote:

We get the system we deserve.

If I'm reading this correctly, this trenchant comment may also be described as "the tragedy of the commons." So here's to me being incorrect.
posted by deejay jaydee at 7:03 AM on December 12, 2007


Ethan Brown is certainly couching it in those terms -- as a form of community resistance to an unjust criminal justice system.

That doesn't mean it's not nonsense. People in the drug game don't snitch out of loyalty to their crew OR fear of retribution. People NOT in the game typically do not snitch out of fear of retribution. There are certainly people who don't give a fuck either way and don't feel the need to report some dude shooting up, but this is by and large a citizen throwing their hands up and saying "what's the point?" Indifference is not the same thing as activism.

I am not surprised that folks try to frame in the manner you've willingly bought into, though. Criticism of police is big business for groups like the ACLU and folks trying to sell books to a hip hop crowd.
posted by dhammond at 9:16 AM on December 12, 2007


I am not surprised that folks try to frame in the manner you've willingly bought into, though.

Bought into in what sense? Which part of "I agree that it isn't sensible or meaningful activism though." did you not understand?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2007


Sorry for any confusion. What I meant was that it's simply not activism at all.
posted by dhammond at 9:50 AM on December 12, 2007


What I meant was that it's simply not activism at all.

If we disagree, I suspect its only about semantics. In the same way that what an artist makes is 'art' regardless of how bad it is, then I'm inclined to call anything that a political activist does as 'activism', regardless of how retarded and counter-productive it is.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:55 AM on December 12, 2007


Neil Stop Snitching

(from my flickr, captured just this past weekend in semi-rural MN, great discussion here folks wish I had more to add!)
posted by ekstasis23 at 9:58 AM on December 12, 2007


Another casualty of the "war on drugs".
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:00 AM on December 12, 2007


this is by and large a citizen throwing their hands up and saying "what's the point?" Indifference is not the same thing as activism.

Moving to my current residence in brooklyn opened my eyes to this a bit - There's at least one guy selling crack from his apt. in the building. A parade of crackheads ring the doorbell constantly, hang out in the hall, etc.

The neighbors are reluctant to call the cops; with a response time of 1/2 hour plus, there's not much chance of the cops being there in time unless they're tipped off in advance by Madame Cleo or perhaps another psychic friend. Add to that the fear of getting shot by one of the young men who work for him... "what's the point?" does seem to be the consensus.
posted by dubold at 11:02 AM on December 12, 2007


Thatcher... yeh. I'm suddenly nostalgic.

You guys remember back when the western right wing fascists actually DID make the trains run on time?

You know. Back when they were just cold hearted realists. At the very least competent.

Back then they just put people out of work rather than torture the shit out of them. Instead of lose wars to uneducated teenage religious fanatics.

Oh. Maggie.

Those were the days.
posted by tkchrist at 11:06 AM on December 12, 2007


Britain is no longer a manufacturing base. Industry in this country has been in decline since the 60's. Steel, Ship building, coal mines, cotton etc were have been decimated. The post-war emergence of 'globalism' and the 'free-market' has wrought disaster not just on local communities but many communities world-wide. Globalism thrives on cheap labour and exploitation. Something your man seems happy enough to endorse, though I doubt Adam Smith would.

Britain's workers in the 70's were more concerned about job losses,wage cuts and worsening conditions than radical 'left-wing' politics, the 'Elite' were worried about a socialist state being created with Harold Wilson at its head, to the point of plotting a coup..

I remember the ensuing strikes in the early seventies causing Blackouts in the winter, bread and sugar rationing. Any politically astute man or woman knew what lay ahead, we were heading for mass unemployment and a global recession as industry restructured, modernised and relocated to where labour was cheap, and to where trades unions influence was negligble. Standing up for your hard won rights and to safe-guard your job suddenly became seen as 'militant'.

In 1979 Thatcher arrived and by 1981 most major cities and towns had experienced 'social unrest'. Now I see the cause of the social unrest as attributable indirectly to Thatcher and her social engineering and the neglect of some of the nations most deprived wards. The result being communities full of alienated and unemployed youths, disenfranchised from the political process, with no prospects and no hope.(These youth, are todays parents)

Thatcher sent down Michael Heseltine to put a plaster on Toxteth after the riots, that plaster was a bloody 'garden festival' ffs. When there were entire streets exisiting soley on state benefits. There were 50 year old men who knew they would never work again. This was not happening just in Liverpool but all over the country. Now add heroin to that despair, there was a reason Liverpool was dubbed 'Smack city'. Again I blame Thatcher for our today.

It was Thatcher who de-nationalised the industries and sold shares in them on the cheap. It was Thatcher who created the 'property boom', so today only the middle-classes can afford a home. It was Thatcher who was mother to the selfish me, me, me society. It was Thatcher who fostered the 'credit culture' of debt. It was Thatcherism which put entire communities on the dole. It was Thatcherisms free-market ideals which encouraged the unprecedented growth of the illicit drug industry and the creation of Britains first international drug cartels, and multi-millionaire drug barons.

Three decades later we are reaping the rewards of Thatcherism. We have the children of the me, me, me generation stabbing and shooting one another. 3 out of every 5 jobs created since 1990 have been taken by foreigners prepared to work for more hours for lesser pay and worse conditions than their British counterpart. And Thatcherism will ultimately be accountable for the rise of Fascism in this country.

There are massive social problems coming to the head in this country and your man seems to be ignorant of that fact, and is prepared to niavely blame 'gangsta rap' music for some of societies ills.

Thatcherism created a whole new sub-class from the 'working-classes and it has become the whipping boy of every Government and newspaper editor ever since. And especially by Phoney Blair with his "we are all middle-class now" sermon.

The soul of British society has been dramatically altered since the 2nd world war, Liverpool for example has today, half the population it had in 1945. It was and still is being ethnically cleansed, communities are still being uprooted and pushed out 60 years later. The Communal values of yesteryear have been destroyed and replaced with personal selfishness. Neighbour ignores neighbour, and kids get away with murder.

And finally…… the decline of the docks led to less dockers, not less goods and cargo. Liverpool is the biggest container port in Europe.

I could go on and on, but I can't be arsed...
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:37 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


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