[Don't] Stop Snitchin’


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 a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to serving as an Executive Director at Feministing, Lori is the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

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

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