This is old news; the Washington State Supreme Court’s 8-1 ruling overturning the murder conviction of a black man because the trial prosecutor told the jury black people have a “stop snitching” rule has been noted. I wrote something on this but did not post it at the time. I contacted the DA’s office but received no response, although I did receive a response to a message I sent about DA Dan Satterberg’s advocacy for three-strikes inmates. It’s an online form so I can’t reproduce that message here, but here is the letter to the editor email I sent to the Seattle Times:
I found Mr. Satterberg’s Times editorial very disappointing. The thing is that the statement the prosecutor made was true. Just because it can be qualified doesn’t mean it isn’t. Obviously *not all* black people refuse to testify, and *not all* people of other races testify, but in general blacks avoid cooperating with the police and justice system, particularly when other blacks are involved. The strength of the “Stop Snitching” attitude is well-known and well-documented.
If a prosecutor- who has the job of showing the facts about a crime to the jury, and must explain relevant social phenomena to those unfamiliar in the process, makes this simple and true statement in the course of the prosecution, what is the problem? Is the truth racist? Is the truth biased? Maybe the problem is not the prosecutor saying something liberals and blacks don’t want to hear, but the social norm of “stop snitching.”
The black community needs to be challenged on this subject. If Mr. Satterberg needs to backpedal, I can appreciate that, but the criminal justice system depends on cooperative witnesses. Mr. Satterberg is the prosecuting attorney specifically and an officer of the court in general. He needs to act as an advocate for the all citizens, not just the accused, who have defense attorneys; and he needs to act as an advocate for the integrity of the justice system, which he has not done.
I personally do not trust or respect the police or the justice system in King County; the police are lazy and the justice system is more focused on not offending minorities than protecting the public. I feel safe most of the time but only because I avoid places like Yesler after dark. If I found myself there I would have to trust in God alone for my safety. I could hardly trust the SPD to protect me before the fact or the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to obtain justice afterwards.