It Is Time for You to Stop All of Your Snitchin' Snatchin'

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Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has ordered the city to seize T-shirts that say "Stop Snitchin."

"It's wrong," Menino said. "We are going into every retail store that sells the shirts and remove them."

More here.

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  1. So it’s not just a Baltimore thing anymore? Welcome aboard, Rest Of The USA.

  2. Image over substance.

  3. It makes me proud of my city when our criminals make a name for themselves nationwide. It give me reason to BELIEVE.
    Go Baltimore!

  4. Smalls: I keep thinking I should make a version of those bumper stickers that just says LEAVE.

  5. It is unknown on what grounds the shirts will be seized, the move appearing to be in direct violation of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

    Gee, Ya think?

  6. Would this have the opposite meaning as a T-shirt that read Legalize It? And would Stop Snitchin’ imply a teense more coercion than Legalize It with just a hint of implied violence?

  7. Jesse,
    Maybe that could be our new half-million dollar slogan.

  8. One wonders if such a threat, blatantly unconstitutional, is not itself grounds for a civil or criminal complaint. Forget defense, go offense. No different than a threat of robbery.

  9. The mayor’s patience was apparently pushed beyond its limit when the mother of gang member wore one of the shirts to her sons trial for the death of 10-year-old Trina Persad.

    Yikes. That’s disgusting.

    So the mayor lost his marbles, but saw-whet is right, the shirt is threatening. Maybe they’re confiscating them on the grounds that selling them obstructs justice?

    I’m sure it won’t happen, it can’t be legal, but I do sympathize.

    Certainly the proud mom should be arrested for witness intimidation and jury tampering (and for raising her son, who however is innocent until proven guilty) and the shirts banned from the courtroom.

  10. Make it hurt.

    42 U.S.C. s. 1983:

    Section 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights

    Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any
    citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable
    to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was
    unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

  11. What did Julian do to the main page?

  12. You’d think a mayor would have better things to do then get his city ass-raped in a sec. 1983 lawsuit — which is the highly predictable outcome if they actually try to do this.

  13. “So the mayor lost his marbles” What, did they fall out of his mouth?

    This is disappointing – Menino’s a very good mayor, and usually above this stuff.

  14. You legal eagles seem to have forgotten that this could be okay under Bush’s War on Terror.

  15. OneState:

    apologize if i’m being dense – what are you suggesting?

  16. It is unknown on what grounds the shirts will be seized, the move appearing to be in direct violation of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

    Since when has the Constitution stopped the government from doing what it wants?

    If Menino was smart (and he’s not), he’d instead make sure they got stocked in every Hot Topic shop in every suburban mall in the area.

  17. This is disappointing – Menino’s a very good mayor, and usually above this stuff.

    are you a moron?

    wait, don’t answer that.

  18. In what world is a shirt that says “stop snitchin” coersive or an obsturction of justice? Now maybe if “Or Else” were tacked on to the end of the quote one might be able to reasonable claim intimidation.

    If mom wore a shirt saying “free my son” would that be jury tampering?

    I dont see any implied threat or coersion in a shirt like this. It seems like a perfectly acceptable expression of ones beliefs. This mother would like people to stop snitching. She is entitled to her opinion as is anyone else who wears the shirt.

    It’s getting bat-shit crazy in these United States when our officials are looking to censor / forbid anything and everything that might be in questionable taste (Pot-suckers, T-shirts like this tongue splitting, etc)

  19. Would a round sign image with “Tattletales” on it and a diagonal line across it be acceptable?

  20. Rafuzo:

    Give him the benefit of the doubt: joe MUST have been joking.

  21. Our half-million dollar slogan could be: Syracuse, An Aspiring Baltimore. Leave.

    Forth time I’ve tried to post this. Feed The Damn Squirrels!

  22. “Fourth time I’ve tried to post this. Feed The Damn Squirrels!”

    No, the problem is the server squirrels are still zonked on L-tryptophan from last week.

  23. No, Tom Menino is pretty univerally recognized as the best big city mayor in America.

  24. No, Tom Menino is pretty univerally recognized as the best big city mayor in America.

    Talk about damned with faint praise…

  25. While siezing all the “stop Snitching” shirts in the city is unconstitutional, one could argue that wearing the shirt in a courtroom during a trial makes one an accessory or part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice or subborn perjury.

    Here in philly, the Stop Snitching shirts were the thing to wear last summer. We have a bad culture of witness tampering. Currently, there’s a dead teenager murdered in view of multiple witnesses, and no one is willing to talk because of this culture of protecting criminals.

  26. By universal you must mean a sample of Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian and The Boston Globe?

  27. Abdul, I’ve been keeping my mouth shut in hopes that De Niro will stick a few hundreds in my shirt pocket.

  28. VikingMoose, I think a shirt worn around gang neighborhoods or in the freaking trial of a murderer is a pretty explicit threat to potential witnesses. It could have a very dramatic chiiling effect, which is pretty clearly its purpose.

    ChicagoTom, I’m not sure if you’re being serious or not, so forgive me if I’m giving a serious answer to a sarcastic reply.

    I don’t think there’s any way the city will be allowed to get away with confiscating these shirts. I did not mean to imply support for such a call or decision. What I’m saying is that I can understand what sent the mayor into an irrational frenzy.

    I really can’t believe that you don’t see a threat in that shirt. Then again, you’re not the shirt’s intended audience, so that’s probably okay.

    Basically, I was trying to say what Abdul just said, only I guess I didn’t.

  29. Abdul-That’s more or less what I was getting at with my image over substance comment. In Kansas City, the same problem exists. Banning a T-shirt is not going to change anything, but it allows this nimrod to claim he’s doing something. And the sheep will line up and baaa their approval.

  30. Perhaps the mayor could simply ask the feds to have the shirts removed to an undisclosed location as enemy combatants.

  31. This reminds me of when Mayor John Street here in Philly was publicly considering a “temporary moratorium” on the right to buy guns. The most insane thing to be was how casually the local papers reported on this possibility. It was a footnote to the main story: “Murder rates are sharply rising in Philadelphia. Some groups have blamed this on the ease of obtaining firearms under Pennsylvania law. We’ll keep you posted on efforts to change that law. And oh yeah, Mayor Street is considering a temporary moratorium on the second amendment of the Constitution.”

  32. D.A. Ridgely,
    That what I was saying above, except it should be the wearers, not the shirts.

    I mean are we serious about this War on Terror?

  33. …one could argue that wearing the shirt in a courtroom during a trial makes one an accessory or part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice or subborn perjury.

    Oh please, expressing your entirely reasonable opinion that people shouldn’t cooperate with the police (one I largely share for perhaps different reasons – see War on Freedom er I mean Drugs and police SWAT tactics used against some guy growing his own stuff – usually tipped off by a snitch) is a conspiracy to obstruct justice? Where the hell are we – the Soviet Union? That’s ridiculous. See ChicagoTom’s comment above – he’s exactly right on this point.

  34. The mayor’s patience was apparently pushed beyond its limit when the mother of gang member wore one of the shirts to her sons trial for the death of 10-year-old Trina Persad.

    Yikes. That’s disgusting.

    It kind of depends. If the snitching is snitching that helps a corrupt police force build a false, circumstantial based evidence case against an innocent defendant for a racist jury, then it is reasonable to want ppl to “stop snitching.”

    Maybe that is what is going on here and maybe it is not. The threat level of the tee shirt can only be accurately evaluated when the complete, relevant context is known.

  35. VikingMoose, I think a shirt worn around gang neighborhoods or in the freaking trial of a murderer is a pretty explicit threat to potential witnesses. It could have a very dramatic chiiling effect, which is pretty clearly its purpose.

    So is a red shirt in a neighborhood where the gang colors are red. I could also wear a t-shirt that said “I’m going to fucking kill you if you look at me.” That’s a pretty explicit threat. What’s your point?

  36. It’d probably be more effective if the mayor just strongly hinted that perhaps shoplifting at those stores might not be investigated and prosecuted with much energy.

    Also, feed the squirrels, or this could happen to you.

  37. Stop Seizin’

  38. OneState:

    okay. But I will respectfully disagree.

    i strongly object to the stomping all over the constitution. That i see as a greater threat. Removing a t-shirt will not solve the problem of witness tampering in Boston or Philadelphia.

    Plus, wouldn’t this be a matter for the judge to decide in the particular courtroom? do judges have that authority?

    Zach – what about those shirts “i taught your girlfriend that thing you like”. or “don’t laugh. it’s your girlfriend’s nightie” or some such.

    and our mayor is better. neener neener.

    (cue the owl)

    🙂

  39. ,It kind of depends. If the snitching is snitching that helps a corrupt police force build a false, circumstantial based evidence case against an innocent defendant for a racist jury, then it is reasonable to want ppl to “stop snitchin.”

    I think snitchin’ implies that it’s the truth being told. Otherwise it would be “Stop lyin'”. Seizing the shirts is illegal and stupid, but at the same time, I wish a horrible end on the woman who wore it to court.

  40. A mayor better than John Street? No way…

  41. Hey, I think that Mayor Mumbles is right. The shirts ARE coercive and should be banned. In fact, all coercive or threatening clothing should be banned. Personally, I find police and military uniforms to be pretty darned coercive. Think I’ll write a letter to the Mayor about them.

  42. Are you sure Mumbles said that? He could have just as likely said:

    “Webuh are goigg into ebehy detail store daht sells the shirts ‘n remobe dem.”

    And they would have had no idea what it was he said.

  43. zach, my point is that those kinds of statements can generally not be made against witnesses or potential witnesses. Witnesses have a protected status of sorts, don’t they.

    Viking, I don’t think you can respectfully disagree with me – I’m pretty sure we agree. I don’t think the shirts should be banned on the streets, disgusting as they are. I just meant that I understand the mayor’s frustration. And I would bet that the judge in this case probably did ban the shirt.

    Brian, do you think it’s okay to threaten witnesses, or do you not think any potential witness could conceivably be chilled by seeing such a shirt or shirts? I think that wearing that shirt that is a (thinly) veiled threat to potential witnesses, and that can reasonably be called obstruction of justice.

    OJ Juror, you’re right, if that’s the case this all means something else. But I doubt the mom of a gang member on trial for murder would wear a shirt that meant “stop being paid informants of the FBI”.

    Anyway, b/c there seems to be some confusion, let me state that I think the mayor damnably wrong for for suggesting the shirts be confiscated and if he tried to move forward with that plan I would hope the city would resist with force. Okay?

    I am not on his side!

  44. Hizzz ‘ohner would have had more success if he’d ignored the shirts. What he’s now done is made the issue National, especially if he follows through on the threat and we see court cases follow.

    ‘Course, with the Big Dig and its scandals out of the current news cycle, maybe this is just a cynical ploy to get ‘Beantown into the news again.

  45. ChicagoTom, I’m not sure if you’re being serious or not, so forgive me if I’m giving a serious answer to a sarcastic reply.

    I was being dead serious. The shirt merely said “stop snitching”. Where is there a threat in that statement? It seems more like someone showing a personal preferences or a request or maybe even a demand, but to somehow equate that with coersion or a threat is beyond comprehension.

    They may be in bad taste, or the sentiment may be abhorent, but I don’t see the threat/coersion.

  46. How is this different than Vote or Die? Saw quite a few of those t-shirts, stickers, etc last year. Nobody was talking about banning those, even though the threat is more explicit.

  47. Brian, do you think it’s okay to threaten witnesses…?

    theOneState,

    No, I don’t think it is okay to threaten anyone, but my view of what constitutes a threat is apparently narrower than yours. I am more worried about the long-term dangers to freedom from broadly interpreting “threats” than I am from some witness’s subjective feeling that such a shirt is intimidating.

    …or do you not think any potential witness could conceivably be chilled by seeing such a shirt or shirts?

    Sure, that is possible. But again I would much rather live with that possibility than allow the government to decide that speech is threatening whenever it may “conceivably” be chilling to a witness. That kind of standard would be too easy for government to abuse.

    I think that wearing that shirt that is a (thinly) veiled threat to potential witnesses, and that can reasonably be called obstruction of justice.

    Well based on my narrower view of what is threatening I don’t agree with your conclusion. But, even if I accept your definition I’d say a little obstructing justice now and then is a reasonable price to pay for keeping government powers over speech in check.

  48. Brian, do you think it’s okay to threaten witnesses, or do you not think any potential witness could conceivably be chilled by seeing such a shirt or shirts? I think that wearing that shirt that is a (thinly) veiled threat to potential witnesses, and that can reasonably be called obstruction of justice.

    Where is this so-called “threat”?? “Stop snitching” is not a an inherently threatening phrase. I doubt any reasonable person would see someone wearing a T-shirt that says “Stop Snitching” and think “Oh I better keep my mouth shut or I’m a dead man” nor would it make a reasonable person who is set to testify stop and think “hmm….maybe I shouldn’t co-operate here. That T-shirt is awfully menacing / persuasive”

    If a simple request / demand is all it takes to constitute a legit threat then there should be lots more ppl in jail

  49. There’s a difference between confiscating and discouraging the shirts. Around as I was for the birth of rock and roll, the blues revival, and the 60’s, I can’t stand gangsta rap and yes, it’s had a bad influence on life here, and I’m saying that as a criminal lawyer privy to a lot of crime details. Censorship sucks, but speaking out about cultural items is fair enough. Oh, and a judge could indeed ban a shirt like that from his courtroom.

    (If double post, was server problem.)

  50. “I’m pretty sure we agree. I don’t think the shirts should be banned on the streets, disgusting as they are. I just meant that I understand the mayor’s frustration.”

    see i missed it. hrumph. sorry about that – i fell out of the tree of density this morning and struck every branch on the way down.

    happy friday! 🙂

  51. “I’m pretty sure we agree. I don’t think the shirts should be banned on the streets, disgusting as they are. I just meant that I understand the mayor’s frustration.”

    see i missed it. hrumph. sorry about that – i fell out of the tree of density this morning and struck every branch on the way down.

    happy friday! 🙂

  52. I think snitchin’ implies that it’s the truth being told.

    I was assuming that the testimony was honest. However, even honest information can help build a dishonest case, especially when the jury is racist. Depends on what kind of evidence we are talking about here. Examples:

    if the witness was an eye witness, then they probably should snitch.

    On the other hand, if the “snitching” is something like: “yeah, I did a drug deal with the guy and noticed a scratch on his hand.” I could see somebody deciding not too come forward to prevent lying cops from saying things like: “yes, yes, that is the exact same scratch he had in custody when I forgot to take a pictture of it.” Of course this is a hypothetical, but you can probably see the broad category of “snitching” I refer to here.

  53. Actually that hypothetical doesn’t make sense. Rather, the lying cop would have to say something like: “that is the exact scratch I saw on the hand of the fleeing suspect.” But the details of the hypo aren’t impiortant and savvy readers should still be able to see my distinction between important snitching, and more marginal snitching.

  54. I think some of you are unaware of the history or context of the Stop Snitchin “brand”. It came about from a home-made widely distributed DVD of the same name originally distributed in [Redundancy Alert] bad Baltimore neighborhoods, to discourage witnesses from testifying about the constant crime taking place right in front of them. In one memorable example, a Baltimore home with five small children was firebombed, killing everyone inside, because the mother complained to the police about drug dealing in her ‘hood. The DVD gained notoriery when it was discovered that a current NBA player appears on the thing [please people, try to at least act surprised].

    So if you are from one of those neighborhoods, which is after all where most witnesses are going to be from, chances are you are familiar with the Stop Snitchin’ campaign.

    Whether you agree with their effectiveness as witness intimidation tools or not, that is their intended effect. That is the effect of distributing the DVD and the entire campaign itself.

    So a judge is certainly within his rights to prohibit anyone from wearing such a shirt in a courtroom, just as he could bar people from wearing shirts bearing the text of canned testimony they’re afraid they’ll forget.

    However, banning them from the entire city is complete nonsense, and confiscating them from stores is plainly illegal.

  55. I understand hizzonah’s frustration too.

    people guilty of witness tampering should suffer the exact same sentence as the defendant would if he were to be convicted. Witness tampering in a murder case? 25 to life, no matter if the defendant in the crime got off or not. If people really have respect for the rule of law, people trying to pervert justice ought to suffer a fate proportional to what they’re trying to abuse.

  56. Does anyone remember a number of years ago when some company was selling shirts that had the phrase “Kill Your Parents” printed on the tag? They did remove the offending phrase, but I’m unsure whether the company did it to aviod trouble or as a result of the legal proceedings.

    As for this case, it’s just ridiculous. T-Shirts are not the cause, and it just doesn’t matter that you may find them distasteful. There’s also a difference between being called or coming forth as a witness, and actively informing on your neighbors. I don’t know where or how to draw that line, but it’s a safe bet that the government would be very, very pleased if we all spied on each other.

    I’m going to make a shirt that says “Snitchin’ Causes Cancer”. Of course, then the State would have to outlaw snitches from bars.

  57. With regard to independent worm:

    That sounds like tactics used by the mafia and the political machines in their day. How did we break those, and is that a good idea/constitutional/applicable to these gangs?

  58. stop pickin on mumbles im sure you would get a god complex if you never had to debate anyone in order to win and the one time you did you 2 people watched because it happened to during a sawx game.

  59. This morning the black neighbor in my basement warned me not to snitch, but verbally. Hear the audio at my sig link! (It is segment 3)

  60. You will notice that Anthony asks that I “please” don’t call the police. I thought the politeness was a nice touch.

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