In Wednesday's paper, I wrote about Sharletta Ambey, a West Philadelphia woman trying to raise her children in a world of "No Snitchin." In late July, her Wynnefield rowhouse was riddled with about 20 bullets while she was inside with her fiance, three young children and toddler grandchild. Police believe the attack was an attempt to keep her son, Anthony, 19, from testifying against the man who shot him earlier this year. Anthony wasn't home when his house was fired upon and no one was injured. He says he not going to testify.
The article got a lot of response from readers: most shared their frustration over the silence and fear that plagues neighborhoods and shared their concern for the safety of Ambey's children. Others wondered why we would even write about the attack: "Doesn't publicizing the family's situation just make them more of a target?" people asked.
Ambey wanted her story told. She is angry and fed up. She said that the people who want to harm her son already know where she lives -- they did shoot up her home -- and we took precautions to protect her privacy, especially her children's. We did not publish her street name, show photos of her children and were very careful how we used quotes and on what material we included. We wanted her story told, because it deserves to be, and because it tells us lot about how we are as a city. But we did not want to inflame her situation. This is real life. She was happy with the article, she said. Glad to see it all written down.
We live in a city without witnesses. Her family's story illustrates why - the uncompromising realities so many witnesses face: testify and face possible retailation for being a "snitch." Don't testify and the person who hurts you walks free and a piece of you - and the soul of the city - dies in the process. Why put yourself and your family in danger? Why not handle it yourself? Get a gun. It's a code that perpetuates violence. In this case, it devastating a family. God help us all if something happens to her little ones.