COMMENTARY: Don’t Snitch: A Mother Mourns While Her Son’s Killer is Free

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Michele Dowdy is mourning the loss of her only child. She cries often, she’s tired – and she’s angry.

She has good reason.

Ten months after her son, Malcom, was shot and killed in Chicago, his murderer still has not been brought to justice.  There have been no arrests in the case and Michele worries that police will never apprehend her son’s killer.

Malcom Dowdy, 33, was not in a gang; he was not involved in a fight at the time of the shooting – he was simply a family man in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was shot by mistake, which weighs heavy on Michele’s heart.

“As a parent I did everything I was supposed to do,” Michele told me. “Someone else didn’t do their job and because of that my family’s world has been turned upside down.  We are all still very devastated.  His ancestors are angry.  It only took a second to do this.  He had his whole life ahead of him, a bright future at 33 years old.”

Police are stymied because nobody in the South Side neighborhood is talking about Malcom Dowdy’s murder. The infamous “No Snitch” rule that has permeated black communities across the country is widely in effect 24/7. Rappers sing about it; black teenagers wear “Don’t Snitch” t-shirts and, for young black kids, talk of snitching has become a dangerous way of life.

Black residents are understandably afraid to come forward about murders – even anonymously – because they fear repercussions from gang members. It’s a tough thing to ask, but Michele is asking anyway. And at some point, however, black residents must work with police if they ever expect to take back their neighborhoods.

“The shooter shot in the crowd at someone else and missed,” Michele said. “To this day no suspects have been apprehended, a usual occurrence in Chicago.  Someone saw something, someone knows something.”

“My son was shot and killed going home from a party that should have never been given,” she added. “There were at least 300 people in attendance in an area too small to accommodate them.  He started not to go but changed his mind to go with three other friends.”

Malcom Dowdy was murdered on Memorial Day in Chicago last year, a particularly violent weekend where 40 people were shot and 10 died over three days. There were a total of 506 homicides in Chicago in 2012, the majority of shooting deaths involving black men.

A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, Malcom Dowdy was the assistant director of security at a Chicago company, a straight-A student at DeVry University, and the father of a one-year-old daughter.

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