Is Snitching Ever Justified?


Snitching is not a term of endearment. Normally when you hear someone being called a snitch, your face frowns and you may even shake your head. This is all before getting the information on why the person snitched.

Recently, The Commercial Appeal, a Memphis based newspaper, reported that famed Civil Rights photographer Ernest Withers was an FBI informant during the civil rights movement.

Civil rights photojournalist-Ernest WithersErnest Withers was very handy with the camera. When Blacks civil rights were violated, Withers were there to capture the moment on film. Withers was well known and expected to be in the company of the most powerful civil rights leaders of that time. He would capture their movements and interactions on film to document history. So when Dr. Martin Luther King was shot & killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, there was no surprise that Withers would be somewhere close & would have his camera in hand. But what’s wrong with capturing, what was at that time, the unjustice being bestowed upon his race, you may ask? 

Well nothing if it was at all that simple. Per Marc Perrusquia, a Commercial Appeal reporter, Withers was not just snapping pictures he was snapping information to report back to the FBI. Yes, it is being claimed that Ernest C. Withers was (dare I say it) a SNITCH informant.

 Per FBI documents, found here, Withers was reporting back to the FBI agents every step Dr. Martin Luther King and others were taking and every meeting they were having.  The night before the fatal shot, Withers reported to the FBI agents about a meeting that King had with suspected black militants.

But that wasn’t the first report Withers had given.  It is documented in FBI files that informant ME 338-R, later to be identified as Ernest Withers, had been a paid informant from 1968-1970. He supplied the FBI with the informantion they needed against those they considered a threat to the well being of the country. You know, anyone that did not follow the rules set by “them”. So Withers reported on anyone that was about changing the way Blacks were being treated. He shared pictures, conversations, and locations with the FBI.

The report is filled with high profile names of leaders of the Civil Rights and today. Details concerning Bishop G.E. Patterson, Jerry Fanion, Vasco and Maxine Smith and others are interactions during that period of time is documented by the words of informant ME 338-R.

Withers was a paid informant. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? Did Withers know that he was helping the FBI & the government build a case against those that were fighting for our rights? Is it really a bad stigma to be called a SNITCH?

Or should his actions be deemed necessary due to the fact that he was attempting to give them a neutral view of  what Blacks were thinking in regards to politics, business, government, and just everyday living as a Black citizen in the South?

What are your thoughts? Join me in a lively discussion with Notorious Spinks on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 on BlogTalk Radio as we discuss Snitching. The show will air at 8pm CST. Follow this link Sol Searching BlogTalk Radio show to tune in. We would love to hear your views as well…The call in number is 347-989-1786.



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