June 28, 2016
WTTW Chicago Tonight correspondent Brandis Friedman talked with Eddie Bocanegra, executive director of the YMCA of Metro Chicago's Youth Safety & Violence Prevention (YSVP) initiative, about the code of silence that's often pervasive on the streets of Chicago. She also spoke with Natasha Stingley, whose daughter Marissa Boyd-Stingley was murdered at the age of 19. Three years later, her case remains unsolved.
According to Bocanegra, witnesses may feel pressured not to give away important information to police in fear of their own safety. Their unwillingness to tell police what they know is more about a distrust of their neighbors, rather than with the police. "This whole notion around a code of silence in the streets or 'snitches get stitches,' or even how people are being labeled as tricks or informants is the reality for a lot of kids and the people in the community," he says.
YSVP staff and veteran mentors in the Y's Urban Warriors program will encourage thought-providing discussions around this topic. Youth are asked: "Well, if you wouldn't call a police officer when you see a shooting or stabbing, then when will you? Would you do it when an older lady maybe fell and she needs an ambulance?" At least half of the group will pause and reflect, and Eddie believes it's during these moments of uncertainty that allows the opportunity to have this conversation.
Watch the full video here.