The “stop snitching” phenomenon is alive and well on Long Island, Newsday reports. The aunt of Michael Alguera, 15, who was stabbed to death at a handball court outside a high school in January, called on witnesses to cooperate. “I know for a fact that somebody in the school, they know who killed Mike,” Yadira Alguera said. “Come forward. You can make a phone call, anonymous. You have brothers, friends. You’re saving somebody’s life.”
“Stop snitching” is attributed to distrust of law enforcement, fear of retribution, and a troubled history with the African-American community that has eroded faith in police departments dominated by white officers and marked by police shootings involving unarmed black civilians. Suspicion of authority is in part rooted in historical institutions, from slavery to the “separate but equal” Jim Crow laws. What’s different today is that the “stop snitching” message is being broadcast by popular culture. David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice said that motto has become a fad, “showing up in places that don’t have any real, direct connection to these really rough, street realities.” Celebrities and musicians, including hip-hop artists such as Busta Rhymes, have refused to speak with police investigating crimes they are believed to have direct knowledge of. “Stop snitching” T-shirts are easily available on the Internet. Those who do tip off authorities have been harassed and even murdered.