by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
A Professional Snitch Comes Clean
In "Alex White: Professional Snitch," Ted Conver tells the story of a small time drug dealer and confidential informant from Atlanta who was forced to make a life-altering choice after the police killed a 92-year-old woman in a botched no-knock raid, and planted drugs on her bullet-riddled body to hide their mistake.
After the killing, the police called their snitch, Alex White, and asked him to say that he'd bought crack at 933 Neal Street. He saw on the news that an woman had been killed at that address and realized the police were pressuring him to cover for them.
White used his wits and his contacts in federal law enforcement to save himself, but at a terrible personal cost.
It's a sad story, but not one devoid of humor:
White exited the restaurant through a different door, recrossed the street and did what any frightened citizen might do: he dialed 911. The police recording captures a panicked White telling a dispatcher that he is outside a gas station being pursued by cops “on the dirty side.” She responds, “So you’re calling the police, and the police are chasing you.” [NYT Mag]
Conover's story sheds light on the use of confidential informants to do the dirty work of police in the drug war. It makes you wonder how many other people are locked up because the police orded CIs to lie.
[Photo credit: The Golden Snitch, by TinyApartmentCrafts, Creative Commons.]