Police investigating Toronto "snitches" website
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, August 4, 2017 4:54PM EDT
The man who set up a website that reveals the age, identity, home address of purported “snitches” or police informants across the GTA says he only targets non-violent “career” criminals and does not advocate violence or vigilantism against them.
Adam Louie says he set up the website, "Golden Snitches," in order to protect people from becoming ensnared by known police informants who he says are themselves involved in criminal activity.
“In the last two years, I’ve had hundreds of profiles up, but I won’t approve them until I get proof,” Louie said.
The website contains profiles with portrait images, approximate ages, whereabouts and often descriptions containing wild allegations of criminal behaviour, often concerning the sale of drugs and informing on drug buyers to police.
Louie says when someone submits a profile to be posted, he speaks to them, speaks to people possibly incarcerated as a result of the allegation, as well as their lawyers.
He also requests the disclosure of the allegations against them, which contains all of the evidence a crown expects to use against them at trial, which can include the identities of witnesses. That constitutes the proof he says he needs to publish witnesses’ identities online.
“Everything that is said about these people in the website is true,” Louie said.
In most criminal proceedings, information that would identify a confidential police informant is kept sealed, suggesting the “snitches” identified on Louie’s website are considered witnesses to crimes.
The site’s arrival has concerned privacy experts, and the former commissioner of the OPP Chris Lewis says the website itself meddles with the judicial process and could pose a safety risk.
“I hope the crown and the (attorney general) and the police are looking at this as an obstruction of justice of some sort,” Lewis said.
He said that even if Louie’s site doesn’t advocate violence, it could serve as a guidebook for those seeking to harm informants.
“There’s people out there who will assault people they don’t even know, let alone a suspect snitch. This flies in the face of all of that.
Louie responded that he only publishes profiles of informants involved in non-violent crimes such as drugs or property crimes.
And he says the site is meant to guide people away from getting involved with the people whose names are published. He said the site targets people he called “career criminals.”
“The only reason they’re not doing hard time — 10 years or more — for the crimes they have committed is because they are informants. The safety of the community is at risk when informants can do whatever they want.”
On its “snitch list,” on Friday, the website listed more than 20 people. While some profiles suggested the author had read and reviewed disclosure concerning the subject, none of the allegations made against the person in each profile can be independently verified.
“He snitches out his own friends,” one profile reads.
“He will sell you stuff and call the cops and say you stole it just so he can get high off meth,” another profile states.
Louie says a few people named on the website have called to have their profile removed. Some have even threatened to kill him.
“I speak very nicely and professionally to anyone who calls, but unfortunately the phone calls I’ve gotten have been pretty threatening.”
He said some have threatened to commence legal action against him, but none have actually followed through to date.
Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said the service is aware of the website.
“I can’t comment on its legitimacy but there is an ongoing investigation and we are aware of its existence.”
Louie said the site represents a public service and is not meant to bring harm to anyone.
“If something happened to someone and they believed it was because of the website I would feel terrible. If I was promoting violence (against) informants that would be wrong.”