- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 2004

BALTIMORE — A U.S. congressman is asking NBA Commissioner David Stern “to formally condemn” any association by NBA players with activities that promote the illegal drug trade.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said yesterday he was trying to arrange a discussion with Mr. Stern after Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony appeared in a digital video disc production that threatens people who tip off police about drug deals.

“What I would emphasize is that, if we have a situation where witnesses are afraid to come forth and if the NBA in any way has anything to do with that then the NBA needs to try to correct that,” Mr. Cummings said.

Mr. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform criminal justice, drug policy and human resources subcommittee, said he hoped to talk about the matter with Mr. Stern as soon as today.

Witness intimidation is a top legal concern in Baltimore, where a husband and wife and their five children were killed in 2001 after their home was firebombed in retaliation for calls to police against drug dealers.

“Any activity to prevent police efforts to reduce drug use and drug-related crimes in a city struggling to overcome this growing epidemic is deplorable,” Mr. Cummings wrote in a letter to Mr. Stern.

The DVD, “Stop Snitching,” hit Baltimore streets last week. It includes music, dancing and spoken messages. In one scene, Anthony, wearing a red shirt and baseball hat, laughs while another man talks about life on the street, snitches and the National Basketball Association.

Anthony, 20, doesn’t respond to any of the comments about violence, but he laughs in one scene and is named in the DVD’s credits. He stands next to a man who warns that people who tip off Baltimore police about drug deals will “get a hole in their head.”

The DVD is being sold on Baltimore streets for $10.

The NBA forward, who grew up in Baltimore, wrote to fans on his Web site this week that he didn’t know a DVD was being made and didn’t approve of its content.

“I want you all to know that I come from a very tough neighborhood,” Anthony wrote. “I’m not embarrassed of that, but I don’t condone some of the things that happen there, and I’m simply working very hard to rise above that difficult environment.”

Anthony also wrote that he recently spent two days “reaching out to kids at my ‘Very Melo Christmas’ event, hoping to make Christmas better for underprivileged kids in Denver,” as well as attending a book signing for his new book.

“I am disappointed that all of the attention is going to this DVD,” he wrote. “You could say the same thing if I was in a music video. I just want you all to know that I surround myself with good people.”

But Mr. Cummings said the comments on the Web site weren’t enough. He said the marquee NBA player has enormous influence on young people.

“I think he needs to say to the world: ‘Look, I’ve seen the damage that drugs can do, and I tell you I just want you to not even experiment with that because it can kill you.’”

Mr. Cummings said he would like to meet with Anthony.

“I would go anywhere to meet with him,” Mr. Cummings said. “You know, I’d stop my schedule to meet with him, because I think he can have a tremendous impact and can save a lot of lives.”

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