Today’s Opinion: Start snitching

POSTED: 04/26/11 11:54 AM

Crime has an almost magical attraction for most people on our island, but not for its entertainment value. Concern about rising crime levels has always spooked politicians and law abiding citizens alike and the subject has been the topic of heated debate for years. But talk is all there ever was: action was limited to the establishment of committees against crime, like the United Task Force Against Crime. And those committees did nothing but talk either.

But there is a change in the air. The recent spate of murders and armed robberies has incensed people. We’re not talking about the vigilante justice the brother of Amador Jones intended to apply to the man he suspected of firing the fatal shots that killed his sibling just a bit more than a week ago.

We’re talking about people who are not in the habit of using violence to settle a dispute.  We’re talking about disgusted citizens who finally come out of the woodwork saying – no, almost screaming – enough is enough.

When the causes of crime are put up for discussion on internet sites, they usually deteriorate quickly. Foreigners, especially Jamaicans and Haitians, become the focus of attention, as it they are the root of all evil.

This time around is no exception, with one difference: local St. Maarteners are hitting back. They point out that most of the inmates in the Pointe Blanche prison are locals. We’re not sure whether this is indeed so, but it is true that a significant number of criminals that pass thorough the courthouse on their way to a prison sentence are from here and not from elsewhere.

In the discussions we read now on the internet, locals are criticizing others who see rising crime as a good excuse for foreigner bashing. Crime is not a matter of foreigners (or of St. Maarteners for that matter) exclusively. It is, as some locals point out to the foreigner bashers, the domain of criminals. And they come from anywhere and everywhere.

With that part of the discussion out of the way, others have stepped up to the plate and suggested a course of action. Basically, these citizens have one message: start snitching.

If you know of any one that has done a crime or is thinking about it, snitch them out, one reaction read. “Damn all you who know and say nothing, you are worse than he who commits the crime.”

Don’t wait until you’re staring down the barrel of a gun to scream. Open your mouth now,” another reaction read.

And a third one: “People need to put that snitching mentality behind them. If everyone stays silent, how the hell you all expect St,. Maarten to become a better island?”

The start snitching movement is rapidly gaining momentum, or so it seems. One reaction came from someone who had used the anonymous tip line (#9300) to report a crime. “I did it and they are behind bars for 3,7, 9 years. I feel great about it.”

Another snitching-fan offered this:”these criminals are somebody’s neighbors or friends. They cannot be your friend if they are busy destroying your island. If these robberies continue we will be losing our tourists and eventually our jobs. So do something about it and snitch on them.”

This trend fits wonderfully well with an action a man undertook last Thursday when he became aware of a robbery at the Atlantis Casino in Cupecoy. While the armed robbers wanted to make their getaway on scooter, the man rammed them. Weapons and money ended up on the street, and the robbers fled.

That was of course a risky thing to do, but it ended well for the man who intervened.

Only ten days ago, people present on the scene of the Amador Jones murder drove investigators insane by their stubborn refusal to come forward with information. We know now, with near certainty, why this was so: the victim’s brother intended to go after the killer himself. That succeeded only partially.

Last Wednesday the brother fired shots at the suspected killer in Dutch quarter, injuring him in the leg. The shooting victim is now in custody as a suspect in the Amador Jones killing, while his assailant is now a fugitive.

The start snitching movement is a positive turn, one that could  turn out to be the most effective tool the combat crime. Because, until now, criminals felt protected under the thou-shalt-not-snitch mantra. Those days are gone, or they are disappearing. That promises to make the work of our police a bit easier, and it also will make youngsters think twice before they even start thinking about committing a crime.


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