The “Stop Snitching” slogan

by Robert Saleem Holbrook | 02.11.2008

The “Stop Snitching” slogan that has spread through urban America like a wildfire....emerged out of the county and state prisons of America and was a legitimate backlash against unscrupulous law enforcement agencies striking deals with unscrupulous criminals to testify, truthfully or falsely, against their co-defendants or any other individual charged with a crime with whom the D.A. lacked the evidence to prosecute.To Snitch or Not To Snitch: The View From The Other Sideby Robert Saleem HolbrookDefenestrator.orgI decided to write this article in response to the endless criticism that is being directed against the “Stop Snitching” movement by critics claiming that Hip Hop is responsible for the “Stop Snitching” movement and the “Us vs. Them” mentality youth of color have towards law enforcement agencies. As a former gang member and street combatant of the drug wars that dominated the streets of Philly in the late 80’s and a member of the generation that came of age listening to Hip Hop I believe I am qualified to offer a frontline perspective from the other side of the issue, especially as one who was sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile because of the testimony of a snitch co-defendant that was close to 10 years older than I.The “Stop Snitching” slogan that has spread through urban America like a wildfire, which many refer to as a “movement”, has emerged more so as an “urban phenomenon” that is not organized or directed but rather is spontaneous and fluid. This phenomenon emerged out of the county and state prisons of America and was a legitimate backlash against unscrupulous law enforcement agencies striking deals with unscrupulous criminals to testify, truthfully or falsely, against their co-defendants or any other individual charged with a crime with whom the D.A. lacked the evidence to prosecute. It was born of prosecutors granting immunity and informant fees to criminals in exchange for their testimony only to see these same criminals leave prison and resume a life of crime in the hood. It was born of prosecutors striking deals that allow drug kingpins to keep the profits of their drug empires in exchange for their testimony against street level dealers that worked for them only to see these “kingpins” released to become bigger kingpins while on the payroll of the state and federal authorities. It was born of prosecutors striking deals with 30 year old triggermen who murdered in exchange for their testimony against their 16 year old co-defendants. It was born of grown men breaking under pressure providing statements to the police implicating a juvenile co-defendant as the ringleader of a murder. It was born of prosecutors striking deals with jailhouse informants who came forward time and time again claiming a prisoner “confessed” their guilt in a casual conversation on the yard.Is it necessary to continue? There are countless other examples. It is these circumstances combined with the countless families within the black and latino communities fractured due to the testimony or statement of a snitch who abused the system and the prosecutors who were/are their partners in crime. This gave birth to the “Stop Snitching” phenomenon.I do not want it to be interpreted that I am ignoring the endless suffering of families within the black and latino communities that have lost a loved one to gang or drug related violence. I do want it to be emphasized that “Stop Snitching” is not directed to the majority of people within these communities that are working class people. It does not apply to the grandmother living in terror from idiot thugs terrorizing the neighborhood and robbing working class people of their hard earned dollars and possessions. It does not apply to child molesters who prey on children, child murders, rapists or any category of sexual predator. “Stop Snitching” is directed at those who are in the “game” and street life, informing and telling on people in exchange for the freedom to continue their criminal activity. It is a call to responsibility: If you are captured, be prepared to do the time and accept the consequences. Ride it out. Don’t cut statements or strike deals to save your own ass.Just as Hip Hop did not create the “Stop Snitching” phenomenon, it did not create the “Us vs. Them” mentality between law enforcement and youth of color. The “Us vs. Them” mentality between youth of color and law enforcement has long been raging within American society. Youth of color did not create this conflict, it was created by law enforcement agencies that are saddled with historical, institutional racism and prejudice and view youth of color as “the enemy” and our neighborhoods as “enemy territory” and “free fire zones”. Every major urban rebellion in this country was a direct response to police brutality against persons of color! The history of this relationship is so extensive it would be a waste of time to further elaborate.Why is no one challenging the “blue wall of silence” among law enforcement agencies that encourages police officers not to snitch on each other or even stop fellow officers from committing acts of brutality on individuals. How many officers were not charged with or acquitted of murder, assault or civil rights violations because officers refused to testify against a fellow officer. Is it any wonder why gangs refer to police as just another gang? Why is the policeman’s code of silence legitimized by the state?What does it say about the leadership of the black and latino community when the most widespread protest phenomenon since the civil rights/black liberation movements amongst the youth today is a campaign to stop snitching? How is it that rappers and so-called thugs have the vision to capture and direct the anger, frustration and lack of direction of the youth while all the activists and educators have intellectualized the debate and have nothing to say? It is because the activists and educators have abandoned the hood. They have abandoned the prisons. In their retreat they have allowed the debate to be defined by the streets and those in prison. Instead of attacking the Hip Hop community and the youth embracing the “Stop Snitching” call they ought to be out there tapping into this discontent and frustration and directing it into more positive community action.Like it or not the “stop snitching” call at its roots is about LOYALTY to one’s friends. If activists can re-direct some of this loyalty to one’s family, friends, neighborhood and people we could seriously begin re-building our neighborhoods and ending senseless murders. That ain’t going to happen when activists or community leaders align themselves with law enforcement agencies responsible for the injustices and hardships committed by snitching. The youth ain’t going to pay attention to anything anyone has to say when they align themselves with the biggest and baddest gang on the set = law enforcement. Here is the cold reality: At the end of the day, like it or not, that damn young thug on the corner with his hoodie pulled up and his baseball cap on and those hardened men emerging from prison with empty eyes are the people you have to talk to in order to put a stop to the senseless violence in our neighborhoods. Let’s start rapping...Robert Saleem Holbrook#BL-5140 SCI-Greene175 Progress DriveWaynesburg, PA 15370

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  • DMV
  • DMV
    SO WHATS A BLACK MAN GONNA DO ............................
  • NYMetro
    Em Htp! Greetings!

    Asante sana for sharing this post! I've been disturbed by the call to 'stop snitching' since it's onset since I KNOW our people, especially the youth, don't have a tendency to way things out in a clear and concise manner. Our communities are rife with violence of all sorts, many of which were outlined in the above article. However, until such time as we become responsible AND responsive to our OWN needs, which definitely requires discipline, integrity and duty, we do have to utilize the services of those that we pay in order to 'police' us. . . . .

    I wonder how successful a campaign to take control of the education and training at the academy levels would be? Controlling the mindset of those coming out of the police academy will go a long way towards predicting the behaviors likely to take place on the streets. . . .

    Looking 4ward 2 building solid Black Nations with you,
  • We agree with the focus of this article as it serves as the basis of which lives can be transformed.

    We would pull the focus into understanding the purpose of agents and the purpose of Law Enforcement on a colonized and oppressed society, many of whom do not consider themselves to be the underclass, colonized, oppressed nation of Africans who are the dire threat to the economic engines of World White Supremacy.

    Can one imagine that the so-labeled "thugs and vermin" many even in our own nation believes to be so... are the key to the liberation of the Planet?

    If one can imagine marital arts, can the "Stop Snitching" thing be considered an Alien community, despite the white financed Negro elite from the Civil Rights All-Stars to the white financed Media Darlings to the white financed Sports Gladiators and the media Anti-Garvey attempt at mixing Races in it's propaganda (think: Flava of Love), can it be a defence against outside attacks?

    Is "Stop Snitching" any different than the "Stop Snitching" of any other immigrant group from the underclasses of Europe that still goes on until this day?
    Note: All Africans are culturally considered Alien to the dominant culture, whether one believes so or not.

    Any organization whether the Mau Mau, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Black Greek Secret Society, Sigma Pi Phi, The Eastern Star, The Masons, The Federal Bureau of Investigations, IBM, Oracle, the Department of Homeland Security, even the Girl Scouts of America... let's even throw in the Council of Foreign Relations... ALL OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS HAVE RULES FOR IT'S MEMBERS NOT TO SNITCH, All punishable, all clear to it's members... rarely if ever are these oaths broken by the members.

    Now if we wanna be honest and say the a white supremacy enforcement gang called Law Enforcement wants to destroy the secret society of the Black Urban "criminal terrorist networks" that presents itself as a power that challenges the absolute domination of the elite.. that the only way they can do it is to break the iron grip to the "stop snitchin'" oaths.... that they need the help of all of their negro network to debate the issue... but failing to understand that the Black Urban "criminal terrorist networks" never have respected sellouts in their eyes and have any influence with them... so they create propaganda the Black Nation to turn over it's by miles, it's strongest most defiant part....

    it would be like a person ask for your spine and heart while telling you not to worry about supporting yourself and bringing blood to your cells. Illogical that you can live without those things.

    STOP SNITCHIN' is a bond that's strong and links the "underground criminal element" through prison and through their lives under the oppression of World White Supremacy. The solution is to embrace this for the larger Revolutionary elements that has been the ONLY factor that's proven to permanently transform the lives into a positive direction where the fight is not defensive but offensive. Yet that is the guard dogs, negro element and law enforcement, greatest fear: When STOP SNITCHIN' evolves into STOP OPPRESSING MY PEOPLE.

    Regardless of the grave issues we are dealing with, Robert Saleem Holbrook is onto a point. But while STOP SNITCH is transformative, being Law Enforcement and Agents for the oppressing elite are not transformative at all.
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