Friday, March 09, 2007

Snitch of the Week: 3/4 - 3/10 (Leroy Nicholas Barnes)

It's pretty disgusting how a whole culture has emerged around glorifying the infamous drug kingpins who decimated the black community throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. People memorize their exploits like baseball statistics and swear by their glorified street code like that shit is worth it’s weight in toilet paper. That’s why this article from the NY Times on Nicky Barnes was such a kick in the ass. This shit is really worth the read.

Crime’s Mr. Untouchable Emerges From the Shadows

For those who don’t know, Nicky Barnes, now 74-years old, was a major heroin dealer in Harlem who was running shit in the 70’s. His smug pose above, which appeared on a magazine cover, caused Jimmy Carter to make sure the book was thrown at him when he was brought in and he caught a life sentence with no parole. As always, the people wanted for the craziest shit get busted on nonsense.

  • “He was pulled over on a traffic violation and was not carrying ID. The two arresting officers did not know who they had caught until they brought him into the police station.”

So it goes.

Apparently he was on some real life Wire shit,

  • “Barnes was the leader of the so-called "Council of Seven", a consortium of Harlem based heroin dealers who organized their retail operations and their revenues to create legitimate businesses to protect their illicit assets. They even had a seven word oath: "Treat my brother as I treat myself."”

You can imagine how long that bullshit lasted. The council stopped paying his legal fees shortly after the shit went down and one of them started twisting out his wife.

Damn. Please believe that Barnes flipped the damn script.

  • ““They had a sleeping lion, a caged lion,” he recalled, “and they woke him up.” And so Mr. Barnes roared, so ferocious a government witness that scores of drug dealers were convicted. He forwarded a list of 109 names, 5 of which were council members, along with his wife's name, implicating them all in illegal activities related to the heroin trade. Barnes helped to indict 44 other traffickers, 16 of whom were ultimately convicted. In this testimony, he implicated himself in eight murders. After Barnes cooperated with the government by working as an informant, Rudolph Giuliani sought reversal of Barnes' life sentence, which was shortened to a 30 year term. He was released into the federal witness protection program in 1998.”

All of this because of a ho...

Now he’s out and trying to sell his book and promote his movie.

It’s a pathetic testament that someone who obviously had the business savvy to run such a successful organization has to live out the remainder of his life as a John Doe in Whitey McWhiteBread, America mowing lawn or some shit as the article states.

“The dapper Nicky Barnes that audiences will see bears little resemblance to the man he says he has become, a grandfather who puts in solid 40-hour weeks at an undisclosed job, who lives in a white neighborhood in an undisclosed state, and who matter-of-factly takes home doggie bags from restaurants.”

It’s not that I feel sorry for him, it’s just sad commentary that Bill Gates can work his genius and hustle in a way that breaks all types of laws which never harms him but so many people end up in a field where a mistake equal death or life.

Maybe if dude had a silicon chip in hands instead of a needle, shit might have turned out a bit differently for him.

And now hip-hop, sadly, is the new conduit for this poison. Peep this article about witness intimidation in NJ. Witness intimidation, aka "Stop Snitching" has gotten so serious that it has affected whether prosecutors even attempt to try single-witness cases.

From the article,

  • Those who do help often do so surreptitiously -- leaving detectives a note in a trash can or asking to be taken away in handcuffs ''so that neighbors will think they're in trouble with the police and not cooperating,'' Mr. DeMattia said.

It's come to a point where trying to get people out of your neighborhood who murder 15-year old honor students makes you the aberrant.

It's been 10 years since Biggie's death and the rap game has only gotten more culturally toxic since, not to mention financially.

If anyone is taking this hip-hop shit too seriously, peep the final words from Mr. Barnes,

  • “Being in prison for the rest of your life,” Mr. Barnes said sharply. “I’d rather be out as a witness than be in there and what they characterize as a stand-up guy.”

    “I’m out,” he said. “They’re in."

Nicky Barnes, for dropping that truth, you are the Snitch of the Week.


  1. this post here is on some dope shit. thanx dude!

  2. yeah, nice post. this months issue of the Atlantic has a long article about snitching in Baltimore and how thugs are intimidating old ladies, kids, fire bombing houses and all that good stuff. Only subscribers can access the article but I can copy and paste it if you'd like.

  3. Dude, you been gone for too long, but as usual you came back with some fire. Post more often! Also, what's up with the new season of The Shield?

  4. Good post. I read the NY times article about Nicky Barnes last week, and I couldn't help but think "I hope this serves as a lesson." I feel sorry for the old dude because he fell way the fuck off, but at the same time I can't express too much sympathy for someone who had a part in flooding the black community with drugs. Of course there are others, black and white, who have done worse shit than Nicky Barnes. Hopefully karma will reward them accordingly.

  5. CJ - Glad you liked it

    Angry Citizen - Can you pass on that Atlantic article?

    - The Shield is back in the first week of April. The month can't end soon enough.

    - Even though he did what he did out of revenge, he still helped but a lot of people away and he seems to have learned his lesson. He got a lucky break.

    I'm going to try and post more often. The feedback keeps me motivated.

  6. I remember building with some young cats in a gang and they talked about how they handle snitches. I pointed out that one of their favorite movies (Goodfellas) was brought to them by a snitch...then they had dude on the History channel walking around and pointing out P.O.I.'s. Dudes in the mob snitch you and your boys who still ride the bus are not immune.

  7. Great post, as always.

    I've been interested in Barnes' story for a while now, but haven't been able to find a decent book. Now that the biography is out, I'll have to buy that.

    That "Stop snitching movement" is so wrong on so many levels it's disgusting. What's even worse is that through this mindless current (c)rap music the idea of "stop snithing" is being adopted by kids all over the world. True, the atmosphere has always been "fuck the police", but the idea that I couldn't even report a stolen bike to the police is taking this shit too far.

    I'd like to read more about what Start Snitching has to say on "stop snitching".

  8. uh what's wrong is selling drugs, robbing and murdering peeps and all the crimes. What IS NOT wrong is seeing that the peeps who do those evil things go to jail Snitching is not evil - only to the evil criminals. Non-criminals might want to use a new phrase I have invented for seeing that criminals who commit crimes go to jail - GOLD MEDAL CRIME SOLVING!