BUFFALO, N.Y.—It used to be an unwritten rule of the streets, but no more.
“Stop Snitching” is the clearly printed message on T-shirts popping up here and in other cities, to the frustration of police who say witnesses are already nervous enough.
Investigative Services Chief Anthony Barba first saw the shirt—featuring a large red stop sign with block letters inside—in the fall, at the scene of a fatal shooting outside a corner store.
“We’re looking in the window and there’s this shirt,” Barba said, “and we see some guy walking back and forth as we’re trying to investigate the scene with one of the shirts.”
Widely available in stores and the Internet for between $10 and $28, the T-shirts have outraged community leaders in Boston, where a clothing store owner agreed last month to stop selling them amid a surge in violent crime, and Baltimore, where the shirts are believed to have originated based on a homemade DVD by the same name.
The DVD included an appearance by Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, who said he was unaware of its purpose. The video warns people they could “get a hole in their head” for cooperating with police.
Police cannot take action against people who wear the shirts or stores that sell them, a frustrated Barba said, since they don’t violate any law.