Police-Community Tensions

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To Snitch or Not to Snitch

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill has a fascinating editorial at AllHipHop.com about the moral dilemmas created by the growing Stop Snitching movement.

The movement, which has been accompanied by a flurry of t- shirts, songs, websites, and DVDs, is ideologically grounded in the belief that people should not cooperate with law enforcement authorities under any circumstances.

As you might guess, the movement is not without its critics:

In response to the "Stop Snitching" campaign, community organizations, politicians, and law enforcement agencies have mounted a full-fledged counter-movement, informally titled "Start Snitching", designed to encourage the hip-hop generation to cooperate with authorities when criminal acts are committed.

Hill doesn’t elaborate on their tactics unfortunately, and I’m left wondering how police and politicians plan to popularize snitching among a demographic already ravaged by the criminal justice system.

Afterall, this us-against-them mentality is hardly limited to the African-American community:

Even the police, who are among the strongest opponents of the "Stop Snitching" movement, have a 'blue code' of silence that protects them from internal snitches.

It’s true. Police advocates are fond of claiming that “a few bad apples” are responsible for all police misconduct, but police are loathe to expose criminality within their ranks. It’s ironic that those who’ve maintained a long-standing and virtually impenetrable “don’t snitch” ethic are now begging the public to stop following suit.

Ultimately, the “Stop Snitching” movement is a form of protest literally woven into the fabric of popular culture. A counter movement of police and prosecutors begging young people of color to “Start Snitching” is comically hypocritical, serving only to further legitimize the anti-informant crusade by proving its effectiveness.

The hard truth is that the “Stop Snitching” movement will continue to grow. Those that have been born the brunt of our war on drugs and the crime it causes have discovered a form of silent resistance. Thanks to the drug war, our most dangerous criminals are capitalizing on a climate of distrust between the police and the public in minority communities.

And if the DAs are up in arms over this, just wait til 50 Cent writes a song about jury nullification.

Location: 
United States

Kootenay Cannabis Community Mobilizing Over Holy Smoke Bust

The powerful cannabis community in BC's Kootenay region is not taking the Holy Smoke bust lying down. Holy Smoke will undertake a strong legal defense, and supporters will hold what they promise to be the largest pot rally in the area's history on August 5. Here is an update from Holy Smoke co-owner Alan Middlemiss from the Cannabis Culture forums: http://www.cannabisculture.com/forums/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=current&Nu... This is an update about the situation here in Nelson... The "Imminent arrest" threats seem to have subsided to threats of "Imminent vacations", with the crown attorney and the lead officer on summer holidays for the next 2 weeks or more. Apparently they cannot get any warrents to search or arrest anyone caught up in "operation vista" until the crown gets back. So we wait, and work. We are moving the date of our community rally to Saturday August 5th. There are several reasons for this not the least of which is the forecast for heavy rains this saturday. We plan to go to the Spearhead outdoor concert in Kaslo the night before and spread the word to the masses. There is quite a lot of interest from a broad range of people in Nelson, so it promises to be the biggest pot rally ever held in the Kootenays. I will fill in the blanks shortly. Sorry about the changed date, but its all for the best.
Location: 
Nelson, BC
Canada

Holy Cow, They Busted Holy Smoke!

http://www.holysmoke.ca/ I wrote about the Holy Smoke bust for the Chronicle, but since it hits close to home, I have a little bit more to say about it. Holy Smoke is a Nelson, BC, head shop and activism hub. One of the owners, Paul DeFelice, was arrested last Saturday night and charged with marijuana and psilocybin distribution. Whatever was or wasn't sold at Holy Smoke, local police did nothing about it -- until now. DeFelice thinks the change has come because of the new conservative government of Prime Minister Harper. The Holy Smoke guys are dedicated activists, one of them is an attorney, and they look forward to challenging the marijuana laws again. Back in 1997, they humiliated local police when they tried to shut them down, and they look forward to doing it again. Holy Smoke is part of the Nelson experience. Situated at the end of Baker Street, the five-block heart of downtown Nelson, it perches beside a tiny park where most afternoons you can find a group of people smoking up and chatting. Holy Smoke ain't going away, but if they really were selling weed, for awhile, now, at least, you won't be able to buy it at a store like a regular human being. Of course, that doesn't mean it won't be available; it just means you'll have to buy it off the street dealers who have been loitering around Holy Smoke.
Location: 
United States

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