A crudely typed list of 126 names began circulating hand-to-hand last week in several neighborhoods, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “THESE INDIVIDUALS ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED BY NO ONE ON THE STREETS AT ALL,” it says above a sketch of a rat nibbling on a hunk of cheese. “THESE INDIVIDUALS HAVE SNITCHED ON SOMEONE IN THEIR LIFES.” Police and county jail administrators believe a jail inmate compiled the list of purported “snitches” — people who have cooperated with authorities by reporting crimes, giving information on others, or testifying — which they say is the most comprehensive they have ever seen.
Named are confidential police informants, crime victims, who have testified or planned to testify, and inmates who have testified or planned to testify against co-conspirators or former cellmates. Also listed are a veteran criminal defense attorney, two outreach workers in a county program and six people who are dead, five of those the victims of homicide. The anonymous author does not suggest what readers should do, only what they shouldn’t do: “PLEASE DON’T TRUST NOBODY. THESE FOLKS ARE OUT TO GET PEOPLE LOCKED UP!!” The warning taps into language that’s become prevalent in crime-ridden neighborhoods: “STOP DA KILL’N, STOP DA SNITCH’N, STOP EVERYTHING.” The snitch list is troubling to police, prosecutors, and jail officials and terrifying to people who have discovered friends, neighbors, and relatives listed. A deputy jail warden said the document looked as if it could have been produced on a typewriter in the jail’s law library. He said the jail is investigating its origins and taking the matter “very seriously.”