By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer
Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.-07) recently introduced the “Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act of 2023.”
The witness protection bill, if passed, will provide $150 million, $30 million a year for five years, to reinforcing witness protection services for witnesses’ of homicides, felonies, serious drug charges, gang crimes or organized crimes.
“Stop snitching” culture has been to blame for victims and witnesses not speaking up. “Snitching” is the act of working with police to solve a crime. Sometimes cases rely solely on testimonies, but if no one is willing, the case will fail and the case cannot persist. The issue largely intimidates youth and community members, who don’t believe they will be protected if they speak up about crime in their area. The “stop snitching” culture assists the eroding trust between communities and police according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I created this legislation because public officials are often quick to tell our community to say something when they see something but then we give them no support,” said Rep. Mfume (D-Md.-07). “That is what was gnawing at me, pushing me to create this bill.”
Mayor Brandon Scott commented on the issue and its pain on Baltimoreans.
“Even the worst criminals in the past years would tell you women, children, and citizens are off limits,” said Mayor Scott. “Now we’ve sunk to this place where it is anyone, everybody, anytime. We as Black people, post free this person or free that person when they are known to have committed a crime. Some women will allow men that they know have killed people at gunpoint to sleep in their beds at night. Some men will go out and party with a friend they know shot and killed a woman.”
Scott continued, “We have to speak up every time someone gets hurt. Not just when it’s your family or loved ones.”
“Once this bill goes through, city officials have to get to work applying to receive these funds,” said Rep. Mfume (D-Md.-07). “It is important to have all officials on the same page in Baltimore. Fighting crime is a fight for everybody, whether it’s the police department, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Mayor’s office, or the Baltimore City State’s Attorney office.”
Mfume also recently introduced the Identifying Mass Shooters Act, which will help the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study and analyze previous mass shooters’ online behavior in hopes that potential mass shooters will be detected, preventing another mass shooting.
“Mass gun violence will not end on its own, said Mfume. “I’m fed up with mass gun violence. There are tools we can use to prevent another one and this is my approach.”
Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.