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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, April 13, 2006

And Another Thing...

While I'm on a roll, in the mood, on this issue of being "real," how's about the kid I saw on my way home yesterday sporting one of those "Stop Snitching" t-shirts?

If you're not familiar with them, the t-shirts grew popular months ago on the East Coast with young hip-hop heads who wanted to show that they were cool and that they weren't tools of "the man (cops)" and that they placed some (misguided) loyalty over telling on a wrong-doer.

I hate these shirts. They send a bad message that you're a real, down, salt-of-the-earth kind of person if you refuse to tell authorities some bad act you observed or know about. It says you're a snitch, a bad, disloyal person, if you tell.

So I got a message from an old cop buddy in Milwaukee, where I lived before South Florida. This guy was a good source to me when I used to cover crime, and he eventually (after I stopped covering crime) became a friendly acquaintance to me. We talked a little about out-of-control kids and about those stupid t-shirts. He lamented that they make his job difficult, because "stop snitching" has become a rallying cry for "don't cooperate" in some neighborhoods.

And then we talked about a trial happening in Brew City right now involving three cops who are accused of beating a guy to a pulp after he allegedly stole a police badge at their house party.

Over the past week or so, cop after cop has taken the witness stand and sworn that they didn't see or hear anything happening to the beating victim - though the pictures of him taken in the hospital make it a pretty safe bet that this wasn't a quiet assault. And they all testified with straight faces.

Then one cop took the stand and was broken down to tears as she described how other cops shunned her when they learned she was going to testify against other cops in this trial. She talked about how she got prank phone calls and veiled threats, and how her tires were slashed.

"Know what," I told my buddy. "Whoever made those calls to her, menaced her, and damaged her property may as well have been wearing a 'Stop Snitching' t-shirt."

So I guess it's not just the kids and the posers on the wrong side of the law sending the foul message that you're wrong to report violent criminal behavior of someone close to you - be it neighbor or co-worker.


  • I just discovered your blog. I totally agree with pretty much everything I've read here. I come across a lot of stupid/rude people in the course of my day, living in a large city. I usually add a hearty "I hear ya!" to your entries. It's amazing how many people in this world lack common sense or courtesy. Incidentally, my drive home is usually the most stressful part of my day. So keep up the good work! It's refreshing to read.

    By Anonymous Adlib, at 3:08 PM  

  • This seems like the "warn-a-brotha" shirts I see popping up here.

    Bad message indeed.

    By Anonymous og, at 3:18 PM  

  • Just goes to show that a person has to practice what he preaches. The stop snitching shirts probably wouldn't have gotten so popular if people felt like local law enforcement was trustworthy.

    if the cops don't police themselves, they have only themselves to blame when they lose the confidence of the community.

    I agree with everything you've written.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 4:07 PM  

  • This is way to mafia/secret society sort of thing and a real disgrace in our world.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 1:10 PM  

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