Shirts Have Politicians, Crimefighters Teed Off

Who would have known a T-shirt could get under the skin?

One particular design is catching the (disapproving) eye of law enforcement types from coast to coast. Its simple concept is a stop sign, sometimes with bullet holes, and a message to “Stop Snitchin.?

The shirts, decorating chests in a number of U.S. cities, have particularly vexed the mayor of Boston. Thomas Menino made headlines last weekend when he made a blustery promise to have city officials yank them off store shelves. It didn’t take long for him to back off the brute-force plan; two days later he had turned his efforts to getting a prominent seller to pull them voluntarily.

In San Francisco, where city officials have often bemoaned the difficulty of persuading witnesses to step forward, the district attorney is also lamenting the shirts. “We’re seeing people, literally young men, walking around with T-shirts that say “Stop Snitching,? Kamala Harris said Wednesday, while answering reporters’ questions about the latest uptick in the city’s murder rate. (By the DA’s count, there have been 93 homicides committed in the city so far this year; she says she’s charged 11 of the 19 resulting cases that the police have brought her.)

But unlike the mayor of Boston, Harris doesn’t see that there’s much to be done about the cottonwear beyond conveying disapproval. It’s not, she noted, like the sellers are regulated by licenses. “It’s just happening on the street.?

She mentioned, though, that she might bring more murder cases to the grand jury, with the idea that witnesses might be more willing to open up in a closed-door proceeding.

— Pam Smith

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