A teenager described seeing a witness pistol-whipped for reporting a rape to police. “His eyes were completely red; you couldn’t see any white,” the youth told researchers for a new study on witness intimidation, reports the Boston Globe. “They threatened to kill him and his family.” Teens interviewed at Boys and Girls Clubs across Massachusetts said they are afraid to cooperate with police against gang members, citing widespread violence and the power that gang members have in their neighborhoods.
The interviews were done for the study “Snitches Get Stitches: Youth, Gangs, and Witness Intimidation in Massachusetts,” sponsored by the state Executive Office of Public Safety and the National Center for Victims of Crime, based in Washington, D.C. Twenty-five percent of survey participants said none of their neighbors would report a gang-related crime; 64 percent said people don’t report such crimes because they are afraid of being beaten up or killed. Mary Lou Leary, a former Massachusetts prosecutor now heading the crime victims center, said her organization chose to profile Massachusetts because the state made significant inroads against gun violence and witness intimidation in the 1990s and is experiencing a resurgence of both now.