The furor over “Stop Snitching” T-shirts has spread to Milwaukee. The message – interpreted with slightly varying twists – essentially urges people to stop talking to and cooperating with police, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The shirts were made popular in Baltimore last year by a “Stop Snitching” DVD featuring rappers, a Denver Nuggets player, and others, some wielding guns and wishing harm on police informants. They have caught on in urban centers from Boston to Philadelphia and Denver and are now among the hottest fashion trends in Milwaukee. “I have five, one for each day of the week,” said 16-year-old Mike O’Connor, a high school sophomore who says he wears them just to be fashionable.
The shirts send a dangerous message to others that, if followed, has the potential to “destabilize the whole criminal justice system,” says prosecutor John Chisholm. Witness intimidation is a real difficulty for prosecutors nationwide, and “Stop Snitch’n” apparel, which includes baseball caps, makes solving crimes more challenging, he said. Police in Baltimore launched a counteroffensive to “Stop Snitch’n” with a DVD called “Keep Talking.” Milwaukee police have noticed the growing popularity of the shirts and hope the department’s planned campaign blitz promoting use of (800) 78-CRIME, the anonymous WE Tip line, will help.