Learning to Distinguish Between Snitching, Good Citizenship
Mary Wells | 5/20/2009, 2:39 p.m.
Concerned citizens filed through the doors of the Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills, Md., on Tues., May 12 to participate in a frank discussion on the distinction between being a snitch and practicing citizenship in order to keep their neighborhoods safe and crime free.
The hour-long presentation, sponsored by Peaceoholics, an anti-violence group based in Southeast, provided District residents an opportunity to voice their opinions about crime; speak candidly about their personal experiences; and hear from a panel of experts that included attorneys, community activists and prosecutors, about helping law enforcement combat criminal activity in their neighborhoods.
€If you are a law abiding citizen, why would you let your sister or aunt or brother get killed in a drive-by shooting and not speak up?€ asked Ronald Moten, co-founder and CEO of Peaceoholics during the opening remarks.
Several women in the audience told the panel that they had attempted to be good citizens and call the police after a violent crime occurred. The police showed up at their front doors to ask if they were the individuals who had called with information, leaving them vulnerable and at-risk for retaliation.
€We still have to live in the community after the police leave. Everybody [thinks] that we snitched to the police,€ the women said in tandem.
Commander Joel Maupin, of the 7th District in Southeast, said that citizen€s lives should not be jeopardized while assisting the police in the apprehension of alleged criminals. There are more effective ways to accomplish the same objective. He informed the public about what to say when reporting criminal activity.
€Let the police know [when you place the call] that you have some information but you do not want the police to come to your door. They will respect that,€ he said.
Maupin also said that crime was going down in the District because of one-on-one policing and other tactics used in the communities by the police department.
A prosecuting attorney, who served on the panel, said his office cannot solve crimes without the community€s help. He reiterated that prosecutors are not the enemy.
Many in the audience agreed.
A member of the audience and voiced his opinion on the society at-large. He said that our society does not hold young people accountable for their actions €" much of it is due to today€s culture.
€They€ve witnessed so many murders in video games, on the Internet and on the streets. If they haven€t had the right training at home, they go right back to their communities after they have killed someone. We have got to make them take responsibility,€ he said.
€Mothers, stop the killers. If you know your son killed someone, you have got to turn them in because they are going to kill again and again if you don€t. Be surrogate mothers. Don€t wait until you€re the mother of a murdered child to do something for the community,€ he said in an emotional outcry.
Valencia Mohammed, a community activist and former D.C. school board member, spoke from the vantage point of a mother of two murdered sons. She said she was tired of other women telling her that they were still waiting for their son€s killers to be caught.
Mohammed established €Mothers of Unsolved Murders,€ an advocacy group for mothers of homicide victims, to assist law enforcement. She said she designed the new building for crime forensics inside her home.
€We went from zero dollars to $250 million in six months. So you can murder if you want to --but a forensics lab in the District of Columbia is on its way in 2012. €We€re going to have your DNA,€ Mohammed said.
€Ninety percent of the murderers in the District know their victims. A lot of times it€s their boys and the [street] code just will not let the boys on the street tell. I think they€re cowards,€ she said.