As a reporter, I am very familiar with people not wanting to talk to me. I know all to well about asking a group of people "who wants to talk" and everyone pointing fingers at the others. I completely understand not wanting to have whatever comes out of your mouth possibly make it to print.
Because I completely understand all these situations, I usually am very easy going when it comes to talking with people and work to get the best comments possible. Unlike other reporters, I do not like making people look bad... it does not usually benefit anyone involved.
One of the times I least like talking to people is when they have just lost a family member or friend because I am keenly aware that a reporter is the LAST person I'd want to talk to if I was battling grief. So when I have to cover a death of any sort, especially a murder, I do my best to be understanding of this mindset while being available if a person is willing to talk.
When I showed up to the scene of a murder on Pender Street early Monday morning, I went in with this same mindset: any comments are better than none. I saw several people outside and approached them about what happened, but the people were unwilling to talk to me and said no one else would want to talk to me OR the police.
This is frustrating not just as a reporter, but as a resident of Rocky Mount. Fine, you don't want to talk to me... that is okay. A simple "no" will suffice, but when you refuse to talk to police about what you saw or about what you think happened, you are essentially saying the violence is okay. You are refusing to help bring some sort of justice and peace to the family while you step aside to let the offenders continue their violent ways toward others in this community — yourself included.
I understand, in some neighborhoods, talking to the police can be seen as "snitching," but not talking is so much worse. If you really don't want the "bad street cred" or whatever, call CrimeStoppers... it is anonymous. It doesn't help the police as much as a going on the record and being willing to testify to what you know, but it is better than nothing.
Why is there a "no-snitching" mentality when obviously it is not benefiting those abiding by it? Not snitching does not mean you are untouchable from the violence. The only people who benefit from this mentality are the offenders who commit these behaviors while everyone else pays the price.
I was glad when I attended one of the recent anti-violence rallies when they addressed this "no snitching" mentality and adamentally proclaimed they would snitch til they were blue in the face if it helped stop the violence.
I hope others will learn and follow their lead because if there is one thing I've learned on this job it is the fact that we cannot police crime away... only the community can stop violence before it starts and until Rocky Mount accepts that responsibility, I will be forced to cover more homicides and acts of senseless violence.