Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Stop Snitching

Was pissed off on Sunday when I saw a mother coming out of a restaurant (with her children), wearing a t-shirt that said STOP SNITCHING. Why pissed? Because anyone who wears shirts like that say COMMIT ANY CRIME YOU WANT WITH NO RECRIMINATION. [note - these are often the same people who wear Jesse Jackson t-shirts such as NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE. Ironic but predictable.]

Philadelphia's District Attorney, Lynne Abraham, had enough of people with that approach, filing charges against a father who flat-out told his daughter in court to recant her previous testimony.

Mitch Lipka of the Philadelphia Inquirer sets the stage:
"We want people to come forward. We want people to step up," Temple University law professor Edward Ohlbaum said. "The fact of the matter is that folks don't feel secure on their way to the stand, on the stand, and after the stand."

An example of why is scheduled to play out today in a Philadelphia courtroom in the case of Donte Thomas, 29, who prosecutors say shot and killed Tyreese Gaymon-Allen, 23, in February. Gaymon-Allen cooperated with police and identified the man suspected of killing his cousin, Tyreyk Gaymon, 23, in 2004.

Last month at the trial of two men charged with killing Faheem [Thomas-Childs], six witnesses - including Devonso Lawson's 18-year-old daughter, Taniesha Wiggins - backed away from initial statements police said they had given.

Prosecutors painted Wiggins as a key witness who told police in great detail what she knew of the events that led up to and followed the shooting of Faheem [Thomas-Childs] .

"As compelling and heart-rending a scenario as the original crime, what you're talking about is a father taking a position that he doesn't want his child to end up in the morgue," Ohlbaum said.
...but the Philadelphia Daily News editorial page clearly took one side of the issue:
WE ROUNDLY applaud the arrest of the father who, in open court, told his daughter to lie on the witness stand.

And we can't help but recall Charles Barkley's proclamation, delivered in sneaker ads back in the 1990s: "I am not a role model... Parents should be role models."

Well, Sir Charles, the father in question, now identified as Devonso Lawson, obviously is not a parent one should emulate.

The district attorney's office is more than fed up with witnesses who "go south" - change their testimony during a trial. And Lawson's blatant manner in an emotional, high-profile case involving the murder of innocent 10-year-old Faheem Thomas-Childs crystallized the problem....

[Taniesha Wiggins] wasn't alone in changing her testimony. Six other witnesses went south in the Thomas-Childs case.

We're not big on events "sending a message." But the arrest of Lawson offers a smidgen of satisfaction that deliberate obstruction of the judicial process won't be tolerated.

The code of the street has no place in the court of law.

I agree. Yes, it would be difficult for me to testify knowing I might be killed by a gang. But if I were a parent, what would be worse - the fact that my daughter or son might be killed if she or he testified against a killer? Or if my child was killed and no one came forward to police, leaving my child's killer free to roam the streets and never, ever face justice, and for me to never, ever have closure? - Peter


Anonymous Cedric said...

Easy for you to say if you live in a safe neighborhood. But if gangs hang out 2 blocks from your house, they can easily find out who snitched and kill you, your family and your dog. Or just make your life a living hell.

April 30, 2006 9:58 PM  

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