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Carmelo Cameo

An anonymous individual angry over gang violence has been posting fliers denouncing Carmelo Anthony. This weekend, crude Xerox copies were taped to light poles and newspaper boxes in and around the Golden Triangle, the Central Denver neighborhood where Denver Bronco Darrent Williams was gunned down on January 1. The flier features a clipping of an article from the Rocky Mountain News that claimed the Denver Nuggets star was considering starting a scholarship fund for Williams' two children. It is followed by this handwritten screed, entitled "Hypocrite":

"One day it's 'stop snitching.' Another day it's 'I'm going to do something for the kids.' You may be making tons of cash, but you definitely don't deserve to be anyone's hero, especially my son's. If you really wanted to do something for Darrent Williams' kids, and for thousands of other kids, you would stop supporting murderous gang banger trash like the 'brothers' who killed Darrent Williams. You are a fraud. You don't have the guts to take a stand for good, and take a stand against evil. No sir, you are nobody's hero. Heroes use their celebrity to make the present and the future better. Just keep cashing the checks; see where it leads ya."

The unknown author is referring to the infamous Stop Snitching DVD, a homegrown video that began circulating on the streets of Baltimore in 2005. The amateur production, which featured a cameo by Baltimore-born Anthony, glorifies gang membership and threatens deadly retribution to anyone cooperating with police in investigations. While Anthony says he was unaware of video's message while it was being filmed, the ensuing community uproar prompted the basketball player to participate in police-sponsored anti-violence spots. Yet the "Stop Snitching" motto -- and the underlying encouragement of witness intimidation -- continued to spread among urban youths nationwide.

Not long after Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, were shot to death in 2005, "Stop Snitching" even appeared on T-shirts available at stores around Denver. Fields was due to testify in a criminal trial involving an earlier gang-related shooting. These murders were a precursor to a series of brazen witness killings that followed, including that of Kalonniann Clark, who was gunned down in broad daylight just days before she was due to testify against Brian Kenneth Hicks.

Though Hicks was in jail on attempted murder charges on the day of Darrent Williams killing, police impounded an SUV registered to the known gang member in connection with the shooting. Aside from rounding up some "persons of interest," law enforcement have yet to make any arrests in the case.

It doesn't take a T-shirt to let witnesses or informants know they face physical danger if they talk. So maybe that's why some people have resorted to Xerox copies to vent their frustrations. -- Jared Jacang Maher

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts