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July 30, 2007 NBC Action News, Kansas City (MO)

'Stop Snitching' Group Hoping To Clarify Message

By Timothy Donley

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Members of a controversial movement to stop snitching hope to clarify their message and gather more support.

They want the public to know that their message is not to keep honest citizens from coming forward as witnesses to crimes.

Last December a billboard at 39th Street and Broadway caused an uproar. The message -- stop snitching.

A snitch is someone who goes to police with information on a crime.

"So now we're having a conversation about what it really means," said November Coalition spokeswoman Nora Callahan, saying people misinterpreted the group's message.

Callahan spoke to local residents about what she calls the problem of snitches who give false testimony in exchange for reduced sentences.

"This snitching system the idea of you're arrested and taken to the side maybe even on the street," Callahan said.

"And they say, 'Well, we'll let you go tonight -- five names,' and we don't feel that's good policing.

Callahan's brother is serving a 27-year sentence on drug conspiracy charges. She says he was convicted because of forced or coerced snitches.

Community activist Alvin Brooks attended the forum to hear the group's message.

"I think you have to be careful about the message you send out," Brooks said, noting he understands the group's message.

He added that so-called snitches are essential to solving crimes like the murder of Chris Bartholomew, an innocent bystander killed in a shootout near Westport in May.

Hundreds of people were at the scene that night, but no one is talking.

"If we didn't have people who called the police or called the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime or the TIPS Hotline or any other means they have for reporting it, a lot of our crimes would not be solved," Brooks said.

"The police department is only as good as the community they serve."

They are asking people to support the federal parole bill that is stalled in Congress.

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