Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trust Lost in Police, So Snitching Becomes Taboo in Rap Culture

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trust Lost in Police, So Snitching Becomes Taboo in Rap Culture

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Too bad Cam'ron couldn't have started with the apology instead of the sensationalism.

A few weeks ago, the rapper told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview for 60 Minutes that he would never cooperate with the police on catching a criminal.

He didn't do it two years ago when he was shot in both arms in front of his entourage. He told Cooper he wouldn't talk to the police even if his next-door neighbor was a serial killer. Said he'd just move.

For Cam'ron, to tell would be to snitch, and in the netherworld ruled by gangsta rap, snitching is sure to take a bite out of the street cred that sells CDs.

But Cam'ron's remarks offended people who don't inhabit his universe. He wound up apologizing. And as it turned out, his apology was more useful than his earlier mouthing off, because it revealed that there was a lot more to the "stop snitching" phenomena than aimless rebellion and skewed priorities.

"Although I was a crime victim, I didn't feel like I could cooperate with the police investigation," Cam'ron responded.

"Where I come from, once word gets out that you've cooperated with the police that only makes you a bigger target of criminal violence. That is a dark reality in so many neighborhoods like mine across America. I'm not saying it's right, but it's reality. And it's not unfounded. ...

"But my experience, in no way, justifies what I said. ... I apologize deeply for this error in judgment."

The dark reality that Cam'ron spoke of is what spawned the anti-snitching craziness.

It's a problem that continues to frustrate law enforcement officials in high-crime cities such as Baltimore, and even here in Jacksonville, where the murder rate continues on its bloody march up the crime stat sheets.

Someone gets shot. Some people see it.

No one talks.

Many young people have been so isolated for so long that they see the drug dealers and other criminals not as outlaws, but as embodiments of power in a society that makes it tough for them to assert themselves through legitimate means. They also see law enforcement as part of that system; as oppressors, not liberators. …

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