A glimpse of Philly’s ‘Stop snitchin’ culture

    In an appalling surge of violence, 32 people were shot in Philadelphia last weekend. Six of them ended up in the morgue, including a man gunned down at an outdoor party at the Mander recreation center in North Philadelphia Sunday night.

    Nyeme Taylor was killed, apparently after confronting youths who’d been bullying his son. His daughter was shot in the leg, and a six year-old girl and ten year-old girl were shot in the face.

    There are many reasons for the violence that plagues Philadelphia, including lax gun laws, high poverty and unemployment, and parents who don’t take responsibility for their kids.

    But another factor is no doubt the inability of police to get witnesses to cooperate in solving these crimes.

    When WHYY’s Mara Zepeda visited the Mander playground the day after the shootings, nearly everyone she met had been there the night before. The violence apparently involved local youths known to many in the neighborhood, and there were certainly scores of witnesses.

    In the audio above, Zepeda talks to two kids about why they and others aren’t interested in talking to police. About 20 seconds in, Zepeda asks one of the youths if he’s taught not to be a snitch, and he turns and looks at an adult family member who responds, “what are you looking at me for?”

    At the end, the kid tells Zepeda he’s not telling stories to any radio station, even if he can’t quite remember which one he’s talking to.

    You can read Mara Zepeda’s story about her visit to Mander here.

    UPDATE: After reading a couple of comments on this post, I realize it might appear that I’m condemning the kids on tape here or others who don’t provide information to police and testify about crimes.

    I’m not. We all admire people who stand tall and do the right thing, but I recognize it can be a rational decision not to testify against people you know and have to live around. The sad truth is that police and prosectuors can’t always protect witnesses if thugs decide to exact retribution. I don’t have a solution for this problem. I presented Zepeda’s sound because it tells a story about life in the city.

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