“Stop Snitchin’” DVD in college library

umbc.jpgI was in the UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) library recently doing some studying after work. I decided to check out the media stacks on the 2nd floor to see the often-touted DVD collection that the Student Government Association has helped fund (the library even has a Facebook group for the media collection.)

IMG_4955I had looked through the stacks on a couple of other occasions just browsing for a movie and not really looking for anything in particular. I came across most of Michael Moore’s films which some conservatives (not including me) might complain about and I wasn’t even that upset when I saw a copy of the controversial Death of a President.

Then, the 2nd time I was browsing, I came across Stop Snitching. As I found out later when looking at the online catalog entry (click all sizes to see the text better), the actual title is Stop F—ing Snitchin’.

My reaction was somewhat different to seeing this on the shelf with all of the other movies. Upon further investigation I noticed that it was on the shelf between an animated version of The Tabernacle and a documentary on The Twelve Apostles.

I was initially pretty ticked off (I’ll look at the reasons shortly) and I asked my wife (a native of Baltimore and a Democrat) what she thought and she thought it was a bit out of line as well. I bounced it off a more liberal friend of mine and asked if I was being too uptight and he said I was and that the library probably had hip-hop CDs available to check out too. Most of the people I’ve asked thought it was outrageous that the DVD was that easily available in a college library.

I’m going to go over some facts about the library and the DVD before I go on to give some background on the Stop Snitchin’ phenomenon for some of our readers (mainly those of you not in the Baltimore area.) DVDs in the library are available for checkout by students and anyone else with a UMBC ID or guest library card. Some of the DVDs in the stacks are documentaries or more scholarly titles. There are CDs which generally are classical music and folk music and a few “easy listening” CDs. I didn’t come across much hip-hop just browsing the music aisles. Some of the movies on DVD have stickers from the year they were purchased by the SGA but more recent ones don’t. The SGA list (possibly an inconclusive one) is on the above-linked Library Media group on Facebook. A catalog search shows that UMBC is the only library in the University System of Maryland to have this particular DVD. I also checked the Baltimore County Public Library catalog and the Pratt Free Library (Baltimore City) catalogs and didn’t find it.

The wikipedia entry for Stop Snitchin’ provides some background information (although the neutrality of that entry has been questioned.) The website on the DVD cover is no longer functional and the 443 area code is generally one used for cellphones in the Baltimore area from what I’ve heard (although there are land lines in it as well possibly.) The creator of the video is now in prison. From the Wikipedia entry: “The video’s creator, Rodney Thomas, aka Skinny Suge, plead(sic) guilty first degree assault on January 17, 2006 in Baltimore and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but 3 years suspended.”

Many of the people supportive of Stop Snitchin’ online at various sites try to claim that average people who talk to the police have nothing to worry about. They claim that they’re only after paid police informants who are already criminals as if they’re only enforcing some Mafia-like code of omerta. If that were the case then why would witnesses or victims who agree to do interviews (as in the case of the mother of a young boy caught in a crossfire within the past few months) will not appear on camera and take other steps to conceal their identity? If the Stop Snitchin’ crowd was just going after paid police informants, would murder witness Carl Lackl have been gunned down in front of his daughter recently on Philadelphia Road?

As I’ll reiterate again, I’m a supporter of academic freedom and opposed to censorship. I do want to start a dialog on this topic to see what others in the area and on campus think about this subject. I do find it a bit disconcerting that when I was looking for a copy of Atlas Shrugged that all 3 copies that had been in circulation were listed as “lost” and hadn’t been replaced (there is a non-circulating copy) yet the Stop Snitchin’ DVD is readily available at the Albin O. Kuhn Library at UMBC.

I can see where either the American Studies or Africana Studies departments might be interested in having a copy of this DVD (note: in every case I’ve seen just the cases are on the shelves and the DVDs have to be checked out behind a desk.) available for the use of students and faculty. I just wonder if in the media stacks with all the SGA movies is the best place to put the cover on display, especially with what’s on the back of it (above left.) I don’t know that treating it like reserve materials where the case and DVD are behind a shelf would be a burden for students or faculty trying to check it out. I’ve worked in libraries before (as a volunteer and as a teaching assistant for credit) where things that tended to disappear or controversial titles (one of these included both Stephen King novels and Catcher in the Rye on that list) were kept in the library office or behind a desk for checkout. Maybe the Stop Snitchin’ DVD could even be displayed by using a blank case with the title on it that doesn’t include the gore that’s on the back or the publicity for the people who produced the DVD in their cover art.

As the murder count continues to climb this year in Baltimore City (with city elections looming) and as continuing incidents of witness intimidation keep happening, I wanted to start a dialog on whether this DVD should be in the library and, if so, how it should be displayed or used. Granted there are some questions remaining about who paid for it and who placed it in the stacks, along with my other questions about other display options.

Feel free to leave your comments about how you feel about this issue.


  1. 1

    [...] Mess (or whatever the show is officially called). The University of Maryland, Baltimore County keeps a copy of the Stop Snitchin DVD in their library. Here’s the screen shot of their library search [...]

    Pingback by Sports Rumblings - athlete celebrity news sports rumors athlete juice team gossip blog » Blog Archive » Carmelo Anthony’s “Stop Snitchin” DVD is actually in UMBC’s library. Seriosuly. — August 6, 2007 @ 12:50 pm

  2. 2

    You can't complain about crime and then help cover it up. If the community sees a crime, they should tell the police who did it, anonymously, if need be. The police seem to be left in the cold, when an entire neghborhood witnesses a crime and then withholds information.

    Comment by Buffy — August 6, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

  3. 3

    Just a few thoughts… First, I doubt that many of the people who would have a (criminal) reason to watch the DVD are college scholars or would have a library card. So, having the DVD in library circulation is most likely used for cultural studies.

    As a college graduate with a degree in Communications, I can tell you that the DVD would be beneficial to study. It shows the state of our country in terms of crime and the views of varying cultures regarding crime. While I hate to say it, "Stop Snitchin'" is a documentary. You may not like the message, but you must keep record of it to learn from it.

    The next thing that came to mind is the fact that they have it in the library for a reason. I know that when I was in college, we had the ability to request certain materials from the library. If they were not able to get it from other libraries, they would attempt to purchase it. For all we know, a student who was studying society in Baltimore requested the DVD, and the library fulfilled their request.

    Comment by Bob — August 6, 2007 @ 7:01 pm

  4. 4


    Thanks for reading and for your insightful comment. However, I did address those issues in the attempt to start a dialogue. I pointed out that I could see the academic purpose for it (and even pointed out the two departments that would probably be interested in that) but I still had questions about how it was acquired and also how it was displayed (both on the general shelves instead of in the back and the use of the original cover.)

    Comment by Jeff — August 6, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  5. 5

    Congratulations on the Morning Show mention!

    Comment by soccer dad — August 7, 2007 @ 4:00 am

  6. 6

    "the DVD would be beneficial to study" So, let's have a discussion of the DVD (I think thats the purpose of Jeffs original. What purposes do you see being served by the dissemination of this DVD? Clearly some people view informants as a danger, -I- view the system of rewards and plea bargains given to informants as a potential danger to society. Is that the argument made by the producer of the DVD?

    Comment by galt425 — August 7, 2007 @ 7:03 am

  7. 7

    [...] morning and welcome new readers who got here via the Stop Snitchin’ story mention on the Sean and Frank Show on WCBM this morning. Also, welcome to readers who got [...]

    Pingback by A.M. Baltimore — August 7, 2007 @ 8:23 am

  8. 8

    I definitely think that it should be behind the counter with a generic place-holder in public view. While the DVD could be educationally useful, and should be available, I just don't think it's in good taste to have that graphic cover laying around, so to speak. As to the first question you posed in comment 4, how was it aquired, while I wouldn't personally be happy funding it with my share of public money, that's kind of the nature of public funds. Can't please everyone all the time.

    Comment by T.Paine — August 7, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  9. 9

    galt425: You got my point exactly on why I brought the subject up - to engender discussion on the matter.

    T Paine: I am interested specifically in whether it was purchased through the library budget, through an academic department's budget or if it was purchased using Student Government funding. All of those matter to me - especially if it was SGA funded since those funds are used to buy movies for students to watch for pleasure. I also want to know if it was purchased from the website given on the box which is no longer active or if the criminals who produced the DVD were otherwise contacted in order to purchase it.

    Comment by Jeff — August 7, 2007 @ 2:54 pm

  10. 10

    [...] office on this matter as well as from various print reporters and I’m expecting the Stop Snitchin’ DVD in UMBC library story to continue to [...]

    Pingback by P.M. Baltimore — August 7, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

  11. 11

    [...] will be on the C4 Show (which is now on from noon-3) today at around 12:15 p.m. EDT to discuss the Stop Snitchin’ DVD in the UMBC Library. If you’re not able to pick 1090 AM up where you are, you can listen to their webcast at [...]

    Pingback by Inside Charm City on WBAL (1090 AM) at 12:15 — August 8, 2007 @ 11:20 am

  12. 12

    [...] that appeared at an unknown time (does anybody actually watch their newscast?) earlier than that. The Stop Snitching DVD in UMBC library post appeared on this blog Monday morning and was covered on WCBM 680 AM the next morning (with a [...]

    Pingback by WMAR lifts story idea from InsideCharmCity.com without giving credit — August 11, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  13. 13

    Juggling carnivals and schmoozing

    Incoming Carnivals Dr. Sanity very kindly included me in the latest edition of Carnival of the Insanities, not only giving me top billing, but having me share it with Israel Matzav. The latest J-Pix is up as the home of its founder Mr. Bagel. I especi…

    Trackback by Soccer Dad — August 14, 2007 @ 5:01 am

  14. 14

    Censorship is ALWAYS wrong.

    Don't you have better things to do than try to create an issue about some DVD? Seriously? If you don;t like it, don't check it out. WHo cares whether someone requested it as part of an academic project or not.

    You're talking about college. If you found this in a public elementary school or even high school I could understand the concern, but we're talking about a library for adult students who are in college for christsake! You worry about some stupid gory picture on the back of the package when the average person witnesses hundreds of thousands of violent acts/murders in TV and in movies by the time they become an adult.

    All of this talk about censorship and keping it behind the counter…What happened to people being able to decide what they want to see? They can go right online and find this and metric shit-tonnes of porn to watch, but you're concerned about a black "street knowledge about the criminal justice system" DVD….

    Comment by Mother — April 1, 2009 @ 4:44 am

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