By Jeremie Samuel
When it comes to the word ‘snitch,’ many would rather be labeled something much worse. Sadly, many in the Black community abhor law enforcement so much they are highly unlikely to cooperate with them.
In the aftermath of the murder of 19-year-old Matthew Cox in the Montclair neighborhood community, some of the deceased’s community members feel fear is one reason witnesses are reluctant to help solve crime cases.
“People are fearful of the repercussions of snitching” said Montclair resident Terry Holt. “But at the same time we can clean up the community if we take a stand against crime.”
“Unless we as community citizens take a stand and fight against it,” Holt continued, “it’s going to continue to happen. It’s sad but we just need to take a stand and say: Hey, we’re not going to take this.”
When economic situations become distressed, some individuals make negative choices that are detrimental to others in the community. Many young people in Escambia County say the lack of community engagement and few career opportunities are the main causes of crime.
Terrio, another resident of Montclair, said many young people need community support and encouragement to develop their skills and talents.
“By opening up opportunities out there or just making a program for the youth to take them off the street [I feel] they won’t be out here with pistols,” Terrio said.
Holt, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, said he has been exposed to crime since a young age. He believes the recent killings are meaningless just like the ones of his childhood.
“I remember living in the projects and a guy got killed in a dice game over a quarter,” Holt said. “I understand that people are afraid, but … they have ways where you can tell something [to law enforcement] and you are not even identified.”
Shawn D. Jackson, President of Jaxsun Group, founded the company to bridge communication gaps between adults and children to prevent bad decision making. One of his most notable teaching methods is teaching adults the current slang in Hip Hop records. Jackson has over 25 years working with at-risks youth and put his experiences in his book “Is Rap Music Poison?”
“Snitching doesn’t stem from Hip Hop, people like to affix that to hip hop, but that goes back to decades of that mentality where anytime you deal with someone who is dealing in some type of illegal activity,” said Jackson.
Jackson noted that in the The Mafia, or Cosa Nostra, individuals who are informants are labeled “rats”
Jackson believes educating children and parents on Hip Hop culture is one way to deter some of the negative messages that are prevalent in the music genre from influencing young minds.
“There’s no substitute for good parenting,” Jackson said. “The parenting does not have to be done by the ‘parent’ because the reality of it is that all kids don’t have their mom and dad in their life.”
“But,” Jackson said, “there needs to be someone that is a positive force. It could even be a coach. There has to be a support system in the community.”