Ok, so you witness someone getting shot or stabbed in your local community. What do you do next, look the other way and carry on walking as if you haven’t seen a thing? Yes that is exactly what you’ll most likely do as this is actually the chilling reality of what happens daily on our streets in and around the UK.
With gang culture becoming an all too popular sight within our society, and many crimes going unsolved, the question is how far are we prepared to ‘look the other way’ to protect our ‘street cred’ not to mention avoid committing the biggest ‘street crime’ of all, being labelled as a ‘snitch!’
This ‘warning’ has spread like wild fire, throughout many communities; it started with a controversial Stop Snitching DVD that infiltrated America’s hip-hop culture, and has since sparked a-frenzy in nearly every ‘hood’ worldwide.
To snitch or not to snitch
The idea behind this anti-snitching campaign is that you never, ever cooperate with the police. With many US rappers jumping on the bandwagon parading ‘Stop Snitching’ T-shirts in their music videos; along with threatening ‘No Snitching’ lyrics it is no wonder that many fans are following suit. Rapper Cam’ron also added his 2 pence by appearing on national TV claiming that he ‘wouldn’t even cooperate with the police even if (get this) a serial killer lived next door to him’. He would simply just ‘move away’. Is he for real?
The reality of it is, many youths particularly in the ‘urban’ communities abide by this unwritten ‘code of ethics’, viewing police cooperation as a negative thing. Eric (who didn’t want his surname known) from South West London said: ‘Police are the enemy. You just don’t do it- we gotta protect our own, whatever it takes. You just don’t grass, that’s disrespect.’
With many youths remaining tight-lipped and viewing the ‘snitch’ as ‘untrustworthy’ or ‘cowardly’, not to mention many fearing the consequences that accompany helping out the police; is there a solution? Can a bridge be built between these youths and the so-called ‘enemy’?
Speaking on the subject PC Brown, from the Soho area said: ‘I understand why they won’t snitch, they have a loyalty to their ‘gang family’ but the key is for them to place their trust in us, realise that we are only here to protect them and their society.
We need to educate them and reassure them that we protect the identities of every informant.’
Stop snitching; start talking just might be the way forward.
Words by Augusta Ettarh