BROOKLYN - Many Brooklyn residents say they are hesitant to come forward with information that could put a criminal behind bars. There are many reasons why this may be true ? but regardless, word throughout the community says that snitches get stitches.
Police say on many occasions, eyewitnesses to shootings, stabbings and murders turn their backs and close their eyes, refusing to give up any information about the crime they saw. Many people are scared to tell the truth ? whether it be fear of retaliation or refusal to cooperate with police, information about a number of crimes continues to go unreported.
Community members explain that on the streets there is a code of silence, an understanding that acts of violence are deserved or a form of revenge. ?In the ghetto we don?t believe in running to the police,? one resident says. ?A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye.?
Witnesses are terrified that if they reveal information about a crime, they will be retaliated against. Many choose to walk away from a crime scene, pretending nothing happened. Some also fear if they report a crime, it will be viewed by others as an insult to the neighborhood, resulting in isolation of the witness.
Retired police Detective Lou Savelli says criminals try to intimidate people not to snitch. ?They feel that they have impunity, and a lot of times what they try to do is intimidate people,? he says. ?They put the word out on the street, better tell people to keep their mouths shut.?
According to federal statistics, over 10 million Americans have had a family member or friend murdered. Only about half of those people ever get to see justice. One Brooklyn family waited two years for justice when their son was murdered ? justice that finally came when someone made an anonymous call that led to an arrest.
The Lyde family lost their son Benny, 22, when he was shot outside their Crown Heights home. ?Every day when we walked outside I was wondering, ?Was it you, was it you??? Robin Lyde, the victim?s mother, says. ?Because [the shooter] was a ghost to us. We didn?t have a name, we didn?t have a face.?
The family says they are extremely grateful that the anonymous ?snitch? came forward. ?I know they had to struggle with the fact with coming forward, but they have made a stand that will make a change in our lives,? Benny?s mother says.
While the Lyde family finally found justice, they say it doesn?t fill the void of losing a child. Their only hope now is that their story will move others to action, and end the snitches get stitches mentality that fills the community.
Prosecutor Deanna Rodriguez hopes that people will share information and make a difference in their communities. ?Bullets don?t have names on them,? she says. ?They should not have to live in a place that?s a battlefield between two factions.? She thinks there should be no sympathy for criminals ? and that instead of stitches, snitches should get a better place to live.
Since 1985, 9,000 murders have gone unsolved. The Lyde family and Rodriguez hope that this statistic will change.
Anyone with any information about a crime is asked to place an anonymous call to CrimeStoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. There is a $10,000 reward for every tip leading to an arrest.
Snitches get stitches ? Part 1 Snitches get stitches ? Part 2