Skip to main content
U.S. Edition


Return to Transcripts main page


The Stop Snitchin' Crisis; Did U.S. Military Choose Public Relations Over Truth in Tillman Death?; War of Words Over Iraq Funding Escalates

Aired April 24, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
A deadly shooting, a millionaire rapper involved -- police say at least 25 people saw it. But no witnesses talked. In major cities all across the country, people are dying, and no one is talking.

Why? Two words: stop snitching, a criminal code of silence now being preached to kids in hip-hop lyrics, rappers like Cam'ron who say you should never talk to cops about crimes.


COOPER: If there's a serial killer living next door to you, though, and you know that person is, you know, killing people, would you be a snitch if you called police and told them?

CAMERON GILES, RAPPER: If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?


GILES: No, I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him, but I would probably move. But I'm not going to call and be like, you know, the serial killer is in 4-E.


COOPER: That is rapper Cam'ron. We will also hear tonight from Russell Simmons. They talk about free speech, but this is a deadly message that is destroying entire communities. The stop-snitching crisis is coming up.

We begin, however, with today's news and an allegation that is both simple and troubling. When faced with the hard realities of war, the Pentagon chose public relations over the truth. Today, on Capitol Hill, lawmakers heard from the brother of Pat Tillman, killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, and Jessica Lynch, captured in Iraq.


PRIVATE FIRST CLASS JESSICA LYNCH, FORMER PRISONER OF WAR: My parents' home in Wirt County, West Virginia, it was under siege by media, all repeating the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting. It was not true. I have repeatedly said when asked that, if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good.

However, I'm still confused as to why they choose to lie and try to make me a legend, when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were legendary.

My heroes is every American who says, "My country needs me," and answers that call to fight.

I had the good fortune and opportunity to come home and to tell the truth. Many soldiers, like Pat Tillman, they did not have that opportunity.

The truth of war is not always easy. The truth is always more heroic than the hype.

Thank you.


COOPER: "The truth is always more heroic than the hype" -- Jessica Lynch setting her own record straight.

The Pat Tillman story now from CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The congressional hearing featured a video replay of the big lie, the phony account of Pat Tillman's heroism given at his memorial service.


SENIOR CHIEF STEPHEN WHITE, U.S. NAVY: Pat sacrificed himself so his brothers could live.


WHITE: I'm the guy that told America how he died, basically, at that memorial, and it was incorrect.

MCINTYRE: That Navy SEAL says he relied on Tillman's largely fictitious Silver Star citation, which said Tillman died engaging the enemy, instead of from friendly fire. No one admits writing the inflated account, but one Ranger who was with Tillman when he was killed says his firsthand account was changed, and he was ordered to keep quiet, not even to tell Tillman's brother Kevin, a fellow Ranger, the truth.

SPC. BRYAN O'NEAL, U.S. ARMY: I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in the platoon. And I knew that him and the family both needed -- or all needed to know what had happened. And I was quite appalled that, when we were -- I was able -- actually able to speak with Kevin, I was ordered not to tell him what happened, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were ordered not to tell him?

O'NEAL: Roger that, sir.

MCINTYRE: Kevin Tillman, who served with Pat in Afghanistan, believes the worst, that it was deliberate deception, with a crass P.R. motive.

KEVIN TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN'S BROTHER: A terrible tragedy that might have further undermined support for the war in Iraq was transformed into an inspirational message that served instead to support the nation's foreign policy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To further exploit Pat's death, he was awarded the Silver Star for Valor. And we believe the strategy had the intended effect. It shifted the focus from the grotesque torture at Abu Ghraib and a downward spiral of an illegal act of aggression to a great American who died a hero's death.

MARY TILLMAN, MOTHER OF PAT TILLMAN: We have been asked over and over again, well, what can we do for your family? How can we appease you?

And it makes me sick. It's not about our family. Our family will never be satisfied. We will never have Pat back. But what is so outrageous is, this isn't about Pat. This is about what they did to Pat and what they did to a nation.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA), GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: What we have is a very clear, deliberate abuse, intentionally done. Why is it so hard to find out who did it? Why is it so hard to find out who's responsible and to hold them accountable, Mr. Gimble?

THOMAS GIMBLE, ACTING INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: We believe that we did find out who's accountable. It's going to be up to the Army to determine what to do with it.

MCINTYRE (on camera): What the Army has done is fault nine officers, including four generals, but none face criminal charges. And what four separate investigations have failed to answer is the key question: Who started the lie, and why?

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Well, today, on Capitol Hill, a war of words over Iraq, as well, with Vice President Cheney and the Senate majority leader each taking their gloves off, now, as the vice president might say, big time.

CNN's Dana Bash reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an unprecedented moment. The vice president stepped up to the Senate microphones to blast the Democratic majority leader on Iraq.

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's most troubling about Senator Reid's comments yesterday is his defeatism. Indeed, last week he said the war is already lost. And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat.

BASH: Dick Cheney stood where Harry Reid usually talks to the press and accused him of inconsistent and irresponsible statements about the war.

Moments later, Reid reclaimed his turf and shot right back.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The president sends out his attack dog often. That's also known as Dick Cheney. And he was here again today, attacking not only me, but the Democratic Caucus.

BASH: That intensely personal war of words over Iraq was just part of the day's dizzying back-and-forth up and down Pennsylvania Avenue over a Democratic bill to fund the war, but force troops to start coming home.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops, and they chose to make a political statement.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is an ethical issue. This isn't a political issue. I respect where the president is coming from on this. I wish he would respect where we are coming from, which is a reflection of where the American people are coming from.

BUSH: A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is not a plan to bring peace to the region or to make our people safer at home. Instead, it would embolden own enemies and confirm their belief that America is weak.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president, divorced from reality, is accusing us of emboldening the enemy and undermining our troops.

Well, Mr. President, I have a message for you: The only thing that's emboldening the enemy is your failed policy.

BASH (on camera): All this white-hot rhetoric is especially remarkable because the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Congressional Democrats will send their plan to the president, and the president will veto it. So, this is about positioning for what happens after the veto, whether Democrats can convince Mr. Bush to sign any bill that forces change in his Iraq policy. Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COOPER: Well, straight ahead: the multibillion-dollar hip-hop industry and the message it preaches: See a crime, even a killing, a murder, and say nothing -- in a phrase, a deadly phrase, stop snitching.


COOPER (voice-over): He says, the message is killing our kids.

He says, don't blame the messenger. Russell Simmons, Geoffrey Canada, two passionate voice, one vital issue, your decision -- when 360 continues.



COOPER: Tonight, we're talking about a crisis. We're going in- depth on two simple words: stop snitching.

Now, the slogan was once used by criminals. And it meant, don't tell on others if you're caught committing a crime. But now the term stop snitching has come to mean something much more dangerous: Don't cooperate with the police, no matter who you are.

You may not have heard it, but your kids have probably. The stop snitching message is being promoted by rappers, marketed by major corporations. And, because of what they are doing and how it's being distributed, murders are going unsolved, and people are dying.

We begin with an eye-opening report I did for CBS News' "60 Minutes." And then we will have some of the major voices in the issue speak out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the snitching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep your mouth closed, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill all rats, man.

GILES: You have run with police.

COOPER (voice-over): The message appears in hip-hop videos, on T-shirts, Web sites, album covers and street murals. Well-known rappers talk about it endlessly on DVDs. It is a simple message heard in African-American communities across the country: Don't talk to the police.

GEOFFREY CANADA, PRESIDENT & CEO, HARLEM CHILDREN'S ZONE, INC.: When I was growing up, kids used to talk about snitching. It never extended, as a cultural norm, outside of the gangsters. It was not for regular citizens. It is now a cultural norm that is being preached in poor communities.

COOPER: Geoffrey Canada is a national recognized educator and anti-violence advocate who has been working with children in Harlem for more than 20 years.

CANADA: Everything is all right?

COOPER: He grew up poor in a tough New York neighborhood, but says the message kids are getting today is very different and dangerous.

CANADA: People are walking around with shirts. People are going out making -- making music. People are saying things that, if you're a snitch, it's like being an Uncle Tom was when I was growing up. It's like, you can't be a black person if you have a set of values that say, I will not watch crime happen in my community without getting involved to stop it.

COOPER (on camera): This slogan, this stop snitching, it now extends to rape, robbery, murder, really any crime?

CANADA: Any crime. It's like we're saying to the criminals, you can have our community. Just have our community. Do anything you want, and we will either deal with it ourselves, or we will simply ignore it. '

COOPER (voice-over): Canada could no longer ignore it on February 5, 2006, when Israel Ramirez, a student he had mentored and loved like a son, was shot to death outside a soundstage in Brooklyn.

Ramirez was working as a bodyguard for the rap star Busta Rhymes, who was making this music video.

A person who was there told us Ramirez was shot in front of Busta Rhymes. He died at the scene two days before his 29th birthday, leaving a wife and three children behind.

CANADA: I just think of him, being shot, falling down, probably thinking, this might be it. And I just wonder, who held his hand? Or who caressed his head? Who told him, I'm going to be here? Who stayed with him? Who made sure this man just didn't die alone for nothing?

COOPER: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says there were at least 25 people who may have witnessed the shooting.

(on camera): How many people have come forward to testify?

RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Nobody has come forward to testify.

COOPER: No one?

KELLY: The people that we have located either were inside and didn't see anything. Or you will get a version of, I have to work in this business. Ask Busta Rhymes what happened.

COOPER (voice-over): The police would like to ask Busta Rhymes what happened. But, even though he talked vaguely about the killing on this TV show...


BUSTA RHYMES, RAPPER: A situation transpired that none of us wanted.


COOPER: ... he refused to talk to police or to us

Geoffrey Canada believes it's because Busta Rhymes doesn't want to jeopardize sales of his music and videos like this one. Canada says, being labeled a snitch might have damaged Busta Rhymes' street cred.

CANADA: One of the things that sells music is when the artist is looked at as someone who's come up from the streets, not just any streets, but the toughest, meanest streets of the urban ghetto. And that's called street credibility.


RHYMES: Hey, yo, what up, Izzy? You know we had to finish this video, right?


COOPER: Busta Rhymes did put this tribute to Israel Ramirez on the video he was making when Ramirez was killed.


RHYMES: Just wanted to make sure that people seen this, so they know you ain't die in vain.

Love you, and I miss you, homey. Hope we make you proud.


CANADA: I think that's horrid. I ask you, Busta, as a man, if that was your son and you watched someone kill your son, would you remain quiet or would you get justice for your son? This is murder. This is murder. This is watching someone getting murdered. How do we walk away from this?

COOPER: The truth is, people having been walking away for years. In 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas. The crime remains unsolved. So does the 1997 shooting of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.

GILES: You can see I have a scar here.

COOPER: (on camera): That's where you were shot?


COOPER (voice-over): Rap star Cameron Giles, known as Cam'ron or Killa Cam, got shot in both arms in 2005. The shooting occurred in front of members of Cam'ron's entourage, but, to this day, neither they, nor he, have cooperated with police.

COOPER (on camera): Why?

GILES: Because, with the type of business I'm in, it would definitely hurt my business. And the way that I was raised, I just don't do that. I was raised differently, not to tell.

COOPER: If I was shot, I would want to know who did it. I would want the guy to get caught.

GILES: But, then again, you're not going to be on the stage tonight in the middle of, let's say, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, with people with gold and platinum teeth and dreadlocks jumping up and down singing your songs either. You know what I'm saying? We're in two different lines of business.

COOPER: So, for you, it's -- it's really about business?

GILES: It's about business, but it's still also a code of ethics.

COOPER: Is there any situation where you think it's OK to talk to the police?

GILES: Yes, definitely, say, hello. How you feel? Everything all right? Period.

COOPER: That's it?

GILES: There's nothing really anything to talk about with the police. I mean, for what?

COOPER: If there's a serial killer living next door to you, though, and you know that person is, you know, killing people, would you be a snitch if you called police and told them?

GILES: If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?


GILES: No, I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him, but I would probably move. But I'm not going to call and be like, you know, the serial killer is in 4-E.

COOPER (voice-over): If you think Cam'ron is kidding, he's not. Maintaining street cred sells record. Just watch his movie, "Killa Season," or his rap videos, and you'll quickly learn about his drug- dealing past. He wears it as proudly as his jeweled chains. In this recent video, which was viewed more than a million times on YouTube, Cam'ron engages in what has become a standard attack on a competitor rapper's brand. He accuses rapper 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, of being a snitch for allegedly cooperating with a police investigation.


GILES: He ran from police. You have run with police.


CANADA: You don't need someone destroying you, when your own people are the worst messengers, possibly. And this is what black people in America have not come to grips with. If we had a bunch a people in robes saying this stuff, there would be -- there would be a movement all over America to shut this thing down. That it's young black millionaires, we are doing nothing.

COOPER (on camera): You're a millionaire?

GILES: Yes, sir.

COOPER: Drive a Lamborghini?

GILES: A couple.


COOPER: A couple?

GILES: Mm-hmm.

COOPER (voice-over): On the streets of Harlem, Cam'ron is idolized. A few years ago, when he started wearing pink clothing, kids in inner-city schools across the country started wearing it, too.

VICTORIA, TEENAGER: Whatever they dish out, we eat it up. They could dish out the nastiest thing in the world, but we still will eat it up.

COOPER (on camera): If the rappers are the teachers, what are they teaching you?

ALEX, TEENAGER: Don't back down from a fight. Get money. Hold your own. Mind your business. Don't snitch. Look fresh. And that's what they -- that's what they're selling us.

COOPER (voice-over): We met Alex, Victoria, Derrick, Darnell, and Tess through a church-based organization called Uth Turn. They're 14 through 19 years old, and told us the stop-snitching code doesn't just apply to rappers.

ALEX: A snitch is a tattletale, a rat, somebody who goes around telling other's people business, instead of minding they own.

COOPER (on camera): And do you believe that?

ALEX: Yes.

COOPER: Anybody who comes forward and talks to the police about something they witnessed, a murder or a crime, are they a snitch?

TESS, TEENAGER: Yes. It's a crime, remember, in our community, to snitch.

COOPER (voice-over): Most of these kids had witnessed at least one violent crime, but had not helped the police identify the culprits.

Victoria saw someone get shot a few years ago. She says she was scared to talk to the police then, and she wouldn't identify the shooter if the same thing happened today.

COOPER (on camera): Why?

VICTORIA: Because that's the rules.

COOPER (voice-over): Those rules are making it much harder for the police to catch killers, according to Professor David Kennedy of The John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Kennedy works with communities and police departments all over the country. Nationwide, he says, police are able to arrest a suspect in about 60 percent of the homicide cases they investigate. That's known as the clearance rate.

But Kennedy says, in some neighborhoods, the rate is much, much lower.

DAVID KENNEDY, PROFESSOR, THE JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: I work in communities where the clearance rate for homicides has gone into single digits.

COOPER (on camera): Single digits?

KENNEDY: Single digits. And this is what's driving it.

COOPER: Because people just aren't coming forward?

KENNEDY: That's correct.

COOPER: What does it say about what's happening in a community that, if you come forward, you lose status in that community?

KENNEDY: In these neighborhoods, we are on the verge of, or maybe we already have lost, the rule of law.

COOPER (voice-over): The snitching credo is not just a product of hip-hop music, he says. Nor are people simply afraid to come forward. As Professor Kennedy sees it, and as Cam'ron portrays it in this movie, the root cause is a longstanding belief that law enforcement is the enemy. Kennedy says that's partly because of police tactics used to fight the war on drugs.

COOPER (on camera): Alex, do you trust the police?


COOPER: Why not?

ALEX: Because there's been numerous times I have been walking, just being a regular American citizen, and getting stopped for no reason.

COOPER: Is it possible that people aren't coming forward to talk to the police not because of what rappers are saying, but just because they don't trust the police?

KELLY: Sure. There's always going to be an element that is not happy with what the police do. But I think the difference here is the commercialization, if you will, of don't snitch, the glorification of it.

CANADA: It's that sort of edgy, you know, kind of ghetto, everybody's kind of into it, it does package well, and it does sell well. And, beneath, you know, beneath all of this stuff, there's huge corporate profits in the industries that feed off of this.

COOPER (voice-over): Many of the big-name rappers who rail against snitches are distributed on major record labels. Cam'ron is distributed through Asylum Records, a division of Warner Music.

When the rapper Lil' Kim committed perjury, rather than implicate members of her entourage in a shooting, Black Entertainment Television launched one of its most popular shows ever, chronicling her days before going to prison.

KENNEDY: Black Entertainment TV ran a reality series about her that was advertised with the tagline, "She's going to prison with her mouth shut and her head held high." This is a Joe Camel issue. This is big business selling death.

COOPER: Black Entertainment Television has said its series on Lil' Kim did not condone her crime, but, rather, took a very serious look at her life and her choices.

As for Cam'ron's relationship with Warner Music, an executive there declined to comment.

CANADA: I dare any of those executives in the major companies to put one of those songs on in board meeting. I dare them. They would never do it. You put on some song that has the N-word 50 times, that talks about killing and murder, oh no. Board members don't want to hear that kind of stuff.

GILES: I just think that rap takes way more slack than -- than the video games and the movies. We don't make guns. Smith & Wesson makes guns. Like, white people make guns and bullets. And all we're doing is rhyming and putting words together.

COOPER: If your record label said to you, look, we're not going to promote you, we're not going to distribute you if you keep calling Curtis Jackson a snitch or you keep writing about guns and selling drugs, would you stop?

GILES: No record company in the world would say, we're not promoting if you keep calling somebody a snitch.

They know what makes money. A record company would never be that stupid, ever.


COOPER: Well, there's a lot more to cover here.

Up next: more from Geoffrey Canada and a different take from one of the founding fathers of hip-hop, Russell Simmons.


COOPER: We're looking at a slogan, stop snitching, which tells people not to talk to police, even if they have seen a murder and know who committed the crime.

Now, we have just seen how, in some inner-city neighborhoods, this has resulted in criminals literally getting away with murder. Now, I have got to tell you, a lot of people in urban communities are afraid to talk about the subject, afraid to say that enough is enough.

Big-name rappers promote the stop-snitching message. And big- name companies are making hundreds of millions off these rappers.

A few brave people are standing up saying: We have got to stop this. We can't turn our communities over to criminals.

My next guest is one of them. He's a highly respected educator, president and CEO of the Children's Zone in Harlem, and the author of "Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America," Geoffrey Canada.

We spoke at length earlier today.


COOPER: Let me start out by asking you, Russell Simmons has now proposed eliminating the word bitch, ho, and the N-word from the so- called clean versions of rap songs. What do you think about the proposal?

CANADA: Well, you know, I think it's a good first start. And I applaud Russell Simmons and the Hip-Hop Action Network for doing that. But it really is only a first step.

And let me tell you one of the things I'm concerned about. So, you begin to bleep out certain words. But kids aren't stupid. You put a word like trigger and then you say, because that's my blank, and you don't think kids put the word in there themselves? I think it may be more damaging to have the kids putting the words in than having somebody else.

You start talking about really about getting into the mind of a young person -- and I'm not talking -- see, they think I'm talking about 22, 23. I'm not talking about those.

I'm talking about 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds who are growing up listening to this music.

COOPER: That's who is really listening to the music?

CANADA: And we're asking them to substitute curse words, swear words, murdering kinds of images themselves, instead of hearing it, and thinking that's better.

COOPER: You have no doubt this is killing young black...

CANADA: I have no doubt in my mind. I have no doubt in my mind that it is setting the cultural context for murder, that, if you tell a kid that, look, take his life, get a gun, use the gun, kill that guy, go and shoot him, you say it over and over, there are kids who are out there -- not every kid.

They're going to say, oh, Geoff, you're saying this is the reason there's homicide in the black community? It is not the only reason, but it is certainly setting a cultural context for murder in our communities.

COOPER: So, how do you change it?

CANADA: Part of -- part of the challenge is, all of us in positions of leadership have to say, there's a line.

You know what? People think -- don't think there's a line. They think, look, this is -- this is what I see the deal is. If African- Americans want to go around calling themselves the N-word, if they want to call their girls and their women bitches, if they want to call their girls and their women hos, if they want to glorify crime and murder, and if they want to -- fine, it's up to them. What do I -- I can't say anything about African-Americans. Take the money, call yourself whatever you want.

We got to stop that. No, I do not give anybody permission to call any African-American woman a name like that. And I don't want to be called by the "N" word and whoever thought they had permission, I'm saying you don't have permission in our community to do that anymore.

This is a life and death issue in the inner cities. African- American men are slaughtering one another at record numbers. They are being arrested at such numbers that it is shocking. It is just shocking.

When you look at the employment of African-American men, it is stunning in this country. This is a crisis. And they're thinking this is music. This is more than music. This is really about the fate of a people and whether or not we're leading people on a path to their own destruction.

COOPER: Is targeting the record companies also a way to go? Is pointing out, you know, the lyrics, pointing out who it is who's profiting? Because they're making big money from this stuff.

CANADA: My understanding is this is the cheapest way for a record company to make money maybe in the history of music. You don't need orchestras. You don't really need any music. You don't have to spend money on developing talent and teaching them how to dance and you just need a bunch of kids to say a bunch of horrible things and look tough and mean and dangerous. And there's a good chance that you can sell a million records.

Cooper: Someone who is involved in the record industry said to me off the record that these decisions, like what rapper is going to feud with what rapper and who's going to call who a snitch, these are actually decisions made and encouraged by record companies. They say to the artist, look, can you get in a beef with 50 Cent or can you get in a beef with, you know, The Game? And it will help propel sales.

CANADA: You know, one of the scary things about this business is that everybody understands that what's driving it right now is some sense of credibility that you are a criminal, a gangster and potentially a murderer. The closer you can get to those kind of things, the more people want to listen to your music. Now, that's dangerous and that's scary.

And you know, people use that as sort of the juxtaposition of why we can't change the music. Everybody wants to listen to this music, but this is what I tell folk. This music is aimed at sort of folk who are emotionally at a level like middle school kids. This is you beat me; I beat you back up. You hit me, I hit you harder. You shot me, I shoot you. You have a gun, I have a machine gun. I mean, it goes on and on and on.

We go through that period as men, and we get to a place where we learn to deal with differences and problems in a different way. As long as you are keeping that aimed at that emotional level, then you can never have enough cursing, you can never have enough violence, you can never have enough exploitation of women and denigration of women. It just gets worse and worse and worse, and that's what we've seen happening over the last 20 years.

I just remind people, when this rap thing started, this was really about a bunch of African-Americans deciding we're not going to fight anymore. Instead of fighting, we're going to break dance. Instead of fighting, we're going to rhyme, your rhyme versus mine. I bring your posse, you bring yours. We're going to have a battle. It was all metaphysical. There was no actual fighting going on.

This has turned 180 degrees, where now they're saying this is the way black people deal with things, versus how the form first started when it was really helpful to our community. COOPER: You know, people are afraid, though, to talk about this. I know even for the "60 Minutes" interview, your family was worried about you being so vocal about this.

CANADA: Yes, well, you know, I told my family, I'm not naive. There's a big -- this is big business. There are a lot of people who stand to lose a lot of money if they see this thing begin to fall apart.

And by the way, I think we've seen the first signs of this thing changing. And I keep telling them this is not about rap ending. It's just about it evolving to the next level.

Should our people be worried? There are people who have died. There are people who have died, people who have been killed and certainly people who have been killed for causing a lot less of a financial loss than maybe this might cause to big music and to big entertainment in America.

But the question is, what's going to happen to this generation of black people if we continue down this pathway? And I'm going to tell you something, I don't see a happy ending to this at all.

COOPER: So how -- with the stop snitchin', how do -- how do you reverse it now? Is it just -- you said it's -- people in positions standing up and saying, "We're not going to tolerate this."

But how do you -- I asked these kids whose we interviewed in the "60 Minutes" piece, all of whom have witnessed crimes and none of whom have talked to police and all of who knew it was wrong in one sense that they should talk to police if they've witnessed as murder. But they said look, these are the rules.

CANADA: I think this is part of the problem and this is where people get frustrated because you can't go into these communities and simply say to kids stop snitchin'. If you're not going in with a way for them to get an education, if you're not going in with a way for them to get a job, if you're not going in with an answer, and part of that answer is that we have to live in a community of order and rules. And if you're not going with that, no, they don't want to hear from you.

As far as they're concerned, you're just passing through with some words of advice and you're going to be gone and you're going to have to live with the same terror that they've been living with up until now.

If you live in a place where people carry guns routinely, where people enforce the law at the point of a gun and you really believe that the police are not going to believe there nor any other adult to help you, it's hard to hear this sort of a theoretical conversation.

What are you going to do in my projects when this thing is going on? Are you going to be there to help me? If the answer is no, it's going to be hard to change that. But I think we have to take this movement, trying to save these black kids in terms of education, in terms of jobs, in terms of a new sense of their identity as not being connected with who the rap world says they're connected with, but connected with young, intelligent, brilliant people.

And it's going to take time. It's not going to happen overnight. But if we start now, we can really impact this next generation. And we can actually get this current generation.

And listen, if we -- if 50 Cent comes out and says, "OK, guys, I've changed my stripes. I no longer want to shoot anybody," kids are going to say, "OK, I give it up, too"? No.

But if there is a responsible outpouring from the African- American artist community that says to young people, think about this. There is some choices to be made. Maybe we shouldn't have said that. Maybe that wasn't sensitive. Maybe this was the wrong -- you're going to get these young people to listen. They're not stupid. These kids aren't stupid. They're just not hearing any other side of this debate at all, and we've got to have a debate in America.

COOPER: Geoff Canada, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.

CANADA: Thanks a lot.

COOPER: We're going to hear more from Geoffrey Canada in the next hour of 360. He's a man who's dedicated his life to helping kids.

It is worth noting who's making this music and profiting from it. Here's the raw data on some of the best selling artists. Young Buck's "Buck the World" tops the R&B/Hip-Hop album chart this week, sold 31,000 albums. Its label, G-Unit is owned by Interscope.

Akon's "Convicted" is the number two, with sales of 60,000. The Convict label is owned by Universal Music Group. Akon's "Don't Matter" is the No. 2 single on Billboard's Hot 100 this week. It has sold more than a million digital tracks.

Still ahead on 360, we're going to talk to one of the biggest names in the industry, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. What he thinks of the stop snitchin' campaign. Does the rap community bear some responsibility? We'll ask him.

Plus, violence and chaos behind bars. Prisoners staging a full scale riot. How it ended.

And on a far lighter note, a cool cat you have to see to believe. That's the "Shot of the Day", coming up later.



COOPER: Well, much more ahead on the slogan that has taken over the streets of the inner cities -- stop snitchin' -- and made it much harder to catch criminals. Literally, people just not coming forward to talk about what they've seen.

The message to stop snitchin' also makes millions for the hip-hop industry and, as you might imagine, the people that produce it defend it. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is among the defenders. We spoke earlier.


RUSSELL SIMMONS, HIP-HOP MOGUL: I don't want to defend any lyrics of any artist. I defend their right to say whatever they say. If it describes a condition in our community, then it's relevant.

If it's a painter who is painting a picture of something that's not so pretty, then let's look at it and see what it makes us feel inside and if we can change it.

And let's take these words. It's very important that corporations take more responsibility and taking these three words out of the language. I don't want my daughters -- and I'm sure Snoop Dogg said he didn't want his daughters to hear those three words.


COOPER: We'll talk about those three words ahead. My interview with Russell Simmons is just ahead.

But first, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, the U.S. Army has begun to notify the families of nine paratroopers killed in a suicide truck bombing in Iraq yesterday. Twenty other soldiers were wounded in the blast in Iraq's Diyala province. It was the single deadliest attack for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in nearly 40 years.

In New Castle, Indiana, a two-hour prison riot today. Fires were set in the courtyard. At least two staff members were hurt. But all is now back under control at that medium security prison tonight.

In the foothills of Colorado, a little springtime snow, up to 16 inches in some parts. The same system dumped heavy rain, hail and caused tornadoes in the plains.

And sales of existing homes posting the sharpest drop in 18 years last month. Sales fell to an annual pace of 6.12 million homes in March. That's actually down more than 8 percent from February. Anderson, it's not always good news here.

COOPER: Not good news there. But this is good news, the "Shot of the Day". I don't know if you've seen this one yet. Meet Norah the piano playing cat.

HILL: Norah? COOPER: Just listen.

HILL: Look at her.

It almost looks like she's tuning it. She's listening very intently.

COOPER: That's right. She's a big star on YouTube. More than 2.5 million people have played this video. Oh, that's right. It goes on.

HILL: And who wouldn't want to play it over and over again? Norah is an impressive cat, I must say.

COOPER: Yes. We wanted you to help us with your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it: We'll put some of your best clips on the air and Erica Hill will make fun of them.

HILL: That's my job.

COOPER: You know, someone's got to do it.

HILL: Exactly.

COOPER: Thanks.

HILL: See you later.

COOPER: Don't miss today's headlines with the new 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod. You can watch it at or go to i-Tunes, where it is one of the top downloads.

Coming up next on 360, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, his view on snitching and graphic rap lyrics.


SIMMONS: That truth that comes out of their mouths is so -- is so biting sometimes. People are offended but the truth is we are a misogynistic society. Every time you turn on "Cops" somebody is beating their wife. We don't talk about it in great detail. When you hear the words out of a rapper's mouth, suddenly now you recognize misogyny or that we're racist?




COOPER: You may not have heard the term stop snitchin' before tonight, but there's a good chance that your kids already have. It is a message sung by rappers, promoted these days by big corporations, and they're making big bucks. Earlier we heard Geoffrey Canada, an educator, offer a powerful indictment of the message and the rappers who push it. He says the message is turning inner city communities over to criminals. It is killing kids, and criminals are getting away with murder.

A different view now from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. He's also the author of "Do You? 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success", a book that just came out.

He's proposed banning three words, the "N" word, "ho" and "bitch", from the so-called clean versions of rap songs, those rap songs played on the radio and mainstream TV. But he still defends the rights of the artists to express themselves, no matter how harsh the images. We spoke earlier tonight.


SIMMONS: The important thing you have to recognize is that truth that comes out of their mouths is so -- is so biting sometimes. People are offended. But the truth is we are a misogynistic society. Every time we turn on "Cops", somebody is beating their wife. We don't talk about it in great detail.

So when you hear the words out of a rapper's mouth, suddenly now you recognize misogamy or that we're racist? Or -- rappers are almost never racist -- but -- or that we're homophobic or that we're violent?

The rappers can't be possibly as violent as some of the choices we all support. We're fearful and we support the unconscious, also, about the people -- we keep talking about the 3,000 people in such a sad event. But why not talk about the 3,000 Africans who died in the last few hours, preventable deaths?

There's a lack of consciousness on the part of all the rigid, smart people, the sophisticates who sit by while we bombing innocent people, sit by while we're misogynistic. They sit by while poverty is on the rise, dramatic not only in this country but worldwide. And we're abusive of mother earth and everything on it. Sometimes the poets bring it to our attention.

COOPER: Right, but the last time -- I haven't heard 50 Cent speak about the environment or sing about the environment or sing about what's going on in Africa. I just listened to his lyrics today and every other word is -- are all these unspeakable words. And you've been saying he's...

SIMMONS: It's like a battlefield.

COOPER: Wait a minute. He lives in New Jersey. He lives in New Jersey in a gated community. That's a battlefield?

SIMMONS: 50 Cent is still a product of that environment. He's just escaped. And he's...

COOPER: But you know what? We all are a product of where we came from, and we evolve. SIMMONS: Alicia Keys is a product of the same environment.

COOPER: Right, and...

SIMMONS: And she's a hip-hop artist with a great program in Africa. Jay-Z is bringing water to people in Africa. Ludacris has the Ludacris Foundation. Chingy for Change, the Shawn Carter Foundation. P. Diddy has Daddy Palace (ph).

COOPER: He had Daddy Peace on Thanksgiving. Is it enough?

SIMMONS: I have five charities that work out of my office.

COOPER: OK, but...

SIMMONS: I'm making a point about hip-hop. It's a diverse group of messages. Some of those messages make you uncomfortable.

COOPER: I just had Geoffrey Canada on, who's a very well- respected African-American educator, runs the Children's Zone in Harlem and he says look, this is basically -- these are lies.

SIMMONS: They're blaming the messenger for the message. They're trying to break the mirror for what they're reflecting. They're reflecting on a truth in our community.

COOPER: You're saying -- you're saying that the artists simply are reflecting the reality of the streets?

SIMMONS: It's not always simple. Sometimes it's complex. But they're artists. They've always been under attack, from the history -- not only America. I remember when Run-DMC couldn't come to town without making the cover of the paper.

COOPER: But Run-DMC wouldn't get a contract today because the language he was using isn't rough enough. The stuff he was singing about...

SIMMONS: That's not true.

COOPER: He's mild by comparison to the stuff...

SIMMONS: The top ten records of the year, most are dance records. Eight of the ten, I would guess, are dance records. There's a diverse group of messages and we could -- and it's true that, I think, when they told you also that people are pushing them for dirt, it's not true. Rappers say what they want to say. And that's a fact. And I've been in the record business my whole life, and we want them to say what they want to say because honesty and authenticity sells.

COOPER: I've had people directly in these meetings who have told me off the record that they are encouraged to get into feuds and fights with each other. They're encouraged to call each other snitches because it builds up street cred and it sells records.

SIMMONS: I have street cred. I saw your "60 Minutes" piece. COOPER: Right.

SIMMONS: And Cam'ron said that he wouldn't tell on a cop. He said it was a code of the street.

COOPER: He said he wouldn't tell about a serial killer living next door to him.

SIMMONS: He was making a point. I think you'd been pushing a corner. He was making a point about not telling -- talking to the police and I think that's sad, I think.

But I have a program in Detroit where the police and community talk a lot, you know. There's a program that promotes dialogue that's critical. And I think that the lack of dialogue -- and you look at people who live in poverty and tremendous struggle. And they feel like the police are an occupying force.

And I told Commissioner Kelly a few weeks ago he should take that program and bring it to New York, because it's very successful. And when you live in such poverty, those people seeing the police seem like they're holding the system up and the system is holding you down.

COOPER: Do you believe someone who witnesses a crime comes forward and tells police what they saw, do you believe they're a snitch?

SIMMONS: I'm a snitch instantly. If I see a crime, I'm telling instantly. So -- and I tell people every day. And I tell rappers every day, if you don't tell, you're an idiot. That's my opinion, but they have a right to have their opinion.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Russell Simmons, thanks.


COOPER: We're going to hear more from Russell Simmons in our next hour. As well, more from Geoffrey Canada.

Still to come in this hour, more heated words, this time over a message from the military.


COOPER (voice-over): Also, truth and war. The Pentagon sold them as heroes.

PVT. JESSICA LYNCH (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I'm still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day, were legendary.

COOPER: Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman's brother speaking out and leveling allegations against the military, ahead on 360.

The war over Iraq. This time it's personal.

REID: The president sends out his attack dog, also known as Dick Cheney.

COOPER: What the vice president said and why another Democrat wants to impeach him. Raw wounds, "Raw Politics", when 360 continues.


COOPER: A young man shot to death, police say, in front of a crowd. They say more than two dozen people saw it, yet no one came forward. The same story playing out across the country, day after day. People dying, no one talking. Why? Two words: stop snitchin', the message being preached in hip-hop lyrics backed by billion dollar corporations.

We'll explore it in depth with rapper Cam'ron, Russell Simmons and others. That's coming up in the hour ahead.


CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines