Cam'ron: Snitching Hurts "Code Of Ethics"
By Andy Court and Keith Sharman
Rap star Cam'ron says there's no situation — including a serial killer living next door — that would cause him to help police in any way, because to do so would hurt his music sales and violate his "code of ethics."
Cam'ron, whose real name is Cameron Giles, talks to Anderson Cooper for a report on how the hip-hop culture's message to shun the police has undermined efforts to solve murders across the country.
Cooper's report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, April 22, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
"If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?" Giles responds to a hypothetical question posed by Cooper. "I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him — but I'd probably move. But I'm not going to call and be like, 'The serial killer's in 4E.' "
Giles' "code of ethics" also extends to crimes committed against him. After being shot and wounded by gunmen, Giles refused to cooperate with police. Why?
"Because … it would definitely hurt my business, and the way I was raised, I just don't do that," says Giles.
Pressed by Cooper, who says had he been the victim, he would want his attacker to be caught, Giles explains further: "But then again, you're not going to be on the stage tonight in the middle of, say, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, with people with gold and platinum teeth and dreadlocks jumping up and down singing your songs, either. We're in two different lines of business."
"So for you, it's really about business?" Cooper asks.
"It's about business," Giles says, "but it's still also a code of ethics."
Rappers appear to be concerned about damaging what's known as their "street credibility," says Geoffrey Canada, an anti-violence advocate and educator from New York City's Harlem neighborhood.
"It's one of those things that sells music and no one really quite understands why," says Canada. Their fans look up to artists if they come from the "meanest streets of the urban ghetto," he tells Cooper. For that reason, Canada says, they do not cooperate with the police.
Canada says in the poor New York City neighborhood he grew up in, only the criminals didn't talk to the police, but within today's hip-hop culture, that has changed. "It is now a cultural norm that is being preached in poor communities … It's like you can't be a black person if you have a set of values that say 'I will not watch a crime happen in my community without getting involved to stop it,' "Canada tells Cooper.
Young people from some of New York's toughest neighborhoods echo Canada's assessment, calling the message not to help police "the rules" and helping the police "a crime" in their neighborhoods.
These "rules" are contributing to a much lower percentage of arrests in homicide cases — a statistic known as the "clearance rate" — in largely poor, minority neighborhoods throughout the country, according to professor David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
"I work in communities where the clearance rate for homicides has gone into the single digits," says Kennedy. The national rate for homicide clearance is 60 percent. "In these neighborhoods, we are on the verge of — or maybe we have already lost — the rule of law," he tells Cooper.
Says Canada: "It's like we're saying to the criminals, 'You can have our community … Do anything you want and we will either deal with it ourselves or we'll simply ignore it.'"
Originally appeared in CBSnews.