By: Victor “Doc V” Trammell During rapper T.I.’s interview on Hot 97 radio station this past week, he was asked about his previous incarcerations. The 32-year-old Grammy-winning recording artist sat down with Cipha Sounds, Rosenberg, and K.Foxx to address various issues. At one point during the interview, Cipha Sounds put Tip in the hot seat by asking him to address rumors about being a snitch to get a lighter sentence in his illegal gun possession case. T.I. went on the defensive end and urged people who believe he is an informant to go online and ”check his paperwork.” He also insisted that he lives by the “G-Code.” Paperwork is the documentation concerning pertinent elements of a criminal case. These documents are public record. Details concerning trial minutes, arraignment hearings, docket sheets, and plea agreements can all be found by a person who seeks to research any particular criminal case. T.I. went on to say that even notorious Black Mafia Family (BMF) co-founder Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory publicly vouched for T.I. and dismissed the notion that the rapper ever cooperated with authorities. This discussion brings up the issues involving crime, law enforcement, and people in urban communities that deal with an adverse way of life. Back in 2004, the media rampantly sensationalized a street movement that started in Baltimore, Maryland. Rodney Bethea, an urban DVD filmmaker put out a documentary called “Stop Snitchin,” which brought attention to ongoing police corruption occurring in Baltimore. In the DVD, numerous individuals who claim to be drug dealers make threats against people who may turn them in for their illegal activities. The DVD set off a national movement that was eventually endorsed by rap artists. The central theme of the “Stop Snitchin” campaign was to discourage people from cooperating with police investigations of neighborhood street crimes. This type of rationale was present in inner-city streets well before the 2004 campaign got national attention. However, is this standard of silence known as the “G-Code” allowing black inner-city people to destroy themselves with impunity? Or are there legitimate situations where it may be a better idea to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the police when they are probing you for information? For most of my childhood and teenage years, I grew up in urban Kansas City neighborhoods that were ruled by criminal businessmen and police officers who operated on both sides of the law. During those years, I witnessed many of my fellow classmates and neighbors involve themselves in a life of crime. A lot of them suffered the classic ending of death or prolonged incarceration. I have witnessed the pain experienced by a single mother losing her only child. I have also seen a doting father get shipped off to prison because his so-called friend gave his name to the DEA. One case involves a homicide that hasn’t been solved to this day. The other case involves yet another black man locked away in the system unable to care for his needy family. Well ahead of writing this article, I had a talk with a childhood friend of mine (who chose not to be named) about whether or not cooperating with law enforcement is the right thing to do for the black community. My childhood friend permitted me to disclose his affiliation with a street gang started in the Juniper Gardens Housing Projects in northeast Kansas City, Kansas. I asked him to give the simplest interpretation of the G-Code he could give. “What it really means, pure and simple is that you don’t ever cooperate with the lawmen under any circumstances. You do the crime, you do the time,” he said. Further into the conversation, I raised a different question about a more complex scenario. I ask my friend what he might do if a loved one of his was kidnapped and held for a ransom he couldn’t afford to pay. ”I don’t know. If I couldn’t get the money and I knew where they [the kidnapper(s)] were at, I’d probably have to call the police,” he answered. I found it strange that it can be so easy to flip flop on an issue that is literally life and death. I would like to clarify that I do not in any way advocate those who commit murder or any crime that would result in the loss of human life. It is deplorable that there are people who have to live in fear of having their lives taken because they seek to give justice to a slain family member. If law enforcement wants better cooperation from the communities they seek to solve homicides in, they must ensure the protection of people who agree to testify against murder defendants. I have heard of too many situations where a person is brave enough to testify and secure a conviction only to get abandoned once the case is closed. The police then end up having to investigate another homicide for a dead person who was just on the witness stand. When people are committing murder with impunity silence is not golden. However, if law enforcement continues to alienate the community by committing brutality, corruption, and enforcing their own ”blue wall of silence” they will not gain the trust they need to prevent crime. Also, career criminals need to realize that when they are caught for non-violent crimes like drug dealing, they need to take responsibility for their actions. Informing on another guy who didn’t get caught to get a lighter sentence endangers family members and the community as well. My friend did make one valid point in our conversation. If you do the crime, be prepared to do the time. Don’t jeopardize your family and the community for your own selfishness. Until more self governance and opportunity lands in urban neighborhoods, we’ll be singing the same old song.