A week before the elections, I’m trying to get a bus at about 5 pm and go to work. It’s drizzling, chilly. Be nice to step in out of the weather at the bus shelter on the corner of Chicago and Franklin on Minneapolis’ south side. But, there’s a guy standing there, holding a crack pipe up to the mouth of a fellow in a wheel chair.
The fellow in the chair has an affliction that has twisted his wrist and deformed his hand to the extent he can’t hold and light his own crack pipe. It’s not going to do me much good to wait there.
A cop comes by, grabs them. I’m just as Black as they are and apt to be hauled in right along with them, or at the very least, detained so long that I’m late at the job. So, I walk up two blocks, standing out in the weather and wait there.
It’s the kind of thing that happens regularly in that area. In fact, across the street at Peavey Park, dealers and those they deal to have taken over the corner called King’s Throne. It’s a nice, ceramic-laid area decked out in attractive colors, looking very family friendly. Except families rarely go there.
In the park, maybe about a month past, twice over a couple days I saw a man beaten and run off and a woman knocked down and stomped by a dealer and her crew. That’s right, her. You don’t ordinarily think of women doing it, but that’s equal opportunity in this new day and age for you.
The neighboring area, a few square blocks that include Franklin Avenue and 21st and 22nd Streets, are pleasant. They could be something straight out of Leave It to Beaverville. Except when the crack zombies — truly, it looks like land of the damned — come through to wait for dealers to drive by. They’ll go in alleys and backyards to smoke. Crack hookers will ply their trade in bushes or backyards with enough cover.
When the Minneapolis City Council elections were heating up, nobody running to represent Ward 6, which is where this is smack, dab in the middle of, campaigned on the strength vowing do something about this problem, which has plagued citizens and hampered businesses for decades. And Robert Lilligren, who just lost his seat to Abdi Warsame, has always done an ostrich act when I’ve asked him for one publication and another about it.
This last time, I sent an email asking what he’s going to do about it and he left me a voicemail saying he didn’t understand the question — which had not been transmitted in a foreign language.
About two years ago, then-Minneapolis Police Department Precinct Commander Inspector Lucy Gerold oversaw a lightning strike that cleaned the whole place up literally overnight. And it lasted a good few months.
When traffic trickled back the hope was the police would be back too in the same kind of force for which law abiding folk had been immensely grateful. With Gerold gone, those folk are still waiting. And with Warsame not giving anymore of a damn than Lilligren ever did, they can wait on one foot and hold their breath.
That’s just the way it is and the way it’s clearly going to stay. Damn shame.
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