[Don't] Stop Snitchin’

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This week, News One is reporting that a community group comprising mostly males and calling themselves the “Detroit 300″ has been mobilizing within their community to help catch rape suspects. Interestingly, to do so they have been actively countering the dominant community creed (and now meme) to “stop snitching” to police on community residents who are known to be guilty of a crime. From the article:

“A community group known as ‘Detroit 300′ is being credited for helping police track down 3 teens accused of raping a 90-year-old woman.  Now they’re pledging to take back the streets and continue to patrol the neighborhoods…

In times where the ‘Stop Snitching’ creed controls Black neighborhoods all across the country, this group is helping to bring criminals to justice through anonymity.”

“Stop snitchin'” became a street motto some years back, with graphic tees and plenty of song lyrics proclaiming the catchy slogan. Since then, it has become something of a ubiquitous hood staple. Although it became trendy relatively recently, “stop snitchin” is a sentiment that’s basically been expressed in communities of color since time immemorial, along with fear and distrust of cops and the justice system at large. (See: rat, nark, pigeon, tattle, etc.) And while it originated as a policy to counter the deals that were being offered by police to people they arrested in order to share information they knew about other illegal activity that was going on, it has been coming under criticism by some communities who feel it all too often prevents justice from being served.

Now, I always love to see communities, especially communities of color, come together in the name of justice. But I’m especially thrilled at the timing of this initiative, as internet memes like the Antoine Dodson’s “Bed Intruder” song have brought laughs to millions, but also (arguably) trivialized the issue of sexual assault in the black community. I also think it’s particularly important for men to take ownership over the issue of sexual assault happening in their own communities alongside their female allies. In this case, that’s exactly what’s happening. Looking at which issues are motivating the “Detroit 300″ to break the hood creed, it’s clear that they view the occurrence of sexual assault as detrimental to the community. A member of the Detroit 300 is quoted inanother article on the subject as saying the following:

“While we’re here, you know you’re not going to sell any drugs.  You know you’re not going to set homes on fire.  You’re not going to rape women.”

It’s unfortunate that this community is having to take it into their own hands to make sure these crimes aren’t committed, but it’s also exciting to see that they care enough to do so. I’m not gonna “stop snitchin'” anytime soon about this excellent example of the power of communities to feel ownership over the prevention of rape and sexual assault in their neighborhoods.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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