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Aug 28th

Northside as prison colony: No way in; no way out

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Northside as prison colony: No way in; no way out

I caught a recent news report and almost thought I would fall off the floor. It turns out that the St. Paul Police Department has done a very good job of running the drug trade out of downtown, closing what literally was an open-air market for crack cocaine. In the execution of a massive sting operation called "Operation Shamrock," St. Paul police hauled off about sixty folk suspected of peddling dope at bus stops. This put a one hell of dent in the traffic -- which of course is a good thing. I caught a recent news report and almost thought I would fall off the floor.

It turns out that the St. Paul Police Department has done a very good job of running the drug trade out of downtown, closing what literally was an open-air market for crack cocaine. In the execution of a massive sting operation called "Operation Shamrock," St. Paul police hauled off about sixty folk suspected of peddling dope at bus stops. This put a one hell of dent in the traffic -- which of course is a good thing. Additionally, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington served public notice that his department is not stopping with this measure and has every intention of keeping the streets clean. That, too, is a laudable blow against criminal activity. Shoot, the DEA ought to bestow upon St. Paul something like a Municipality of the Month Award.

However, there is a serious problem on the other side of the Twin Cities. Best evidence indicates that the movers and shakers behind illegal entrepreneurs (if you think it begins with street-sellers, think again) have far from quit the hustle. Just like when you spray your apartment for roaches and they simply flee next door, downtown St. Paul's infestation (those who weren't locked up) apparently have migrated to the north side of Minneapolis. As if that locale doesn't already have enough problems to deal with: an already thriving drug trade along with attendant violence that murders bystanders (including youngsters) with catastrophic regularity.

Minneapolis Police Department Lt. Myron Taylor attests that officers have encountered an influx of new faces along West Broadway in North Minneapolis and that, when people are stopped for violations, they increasingly give addresses in St. Paul. That includes the early July arrest in the area of a gang member from St. Paul.

Just great. You have to ask at this point, what can be done to do for North Minneapolis what was done for downtown St. Paul? Thing is, Operation Shamrock proved for good and all that if you come down on them hard enough, drug dealers will stop dealing drugs in your area. So the question is, what kind of police operation -- be it a sting, sweep or whatever -- needs to be put into effect in order to improve the quality of life and get the life-threatening drug traffic off the streets of North Minneapolis? And of course, since it was done in St. Paul, in order to make downtown a safe place where mostly White folk can once again comfortably congregate and go about their business, why the hell can't it be done for a community where mostly Black folk want and need to be able to do the same damned thing?

The next time Minneapolis' conspicuously ineffectual Police Community Relations Council gets together to waste time and energy (God knows, after all these years, they haven't done a single thing about the racial profiling that brought the council into being), maybe they'll at least give lip-service to this community-debilitating blight. It's not likely, but one certainly can raise the hope.

One way or another, something has to be done. Otherwise we are witness to the City of Minneapolis having handed North Minneapolis over to criminals. Frighteningly, it brings to mind the movie Escape from New York, in which Manhattan was chalked up as being so irredeemable that authorities simply moved all the decent folk out and walled the whole place off as a maximum security prison: nobody in, nobody out -- go ahead and kill each other with no danger to law-abiding citizenry. But this is not a movie. And no one has offered citizens held hostage by crime any sanctuary. Not that they should need one; the Minneapolis Police Department is responsible to flush out and eradicate illegal goings-on in North Minneapolis, with its largely crack-plagued Black population, just like it would if methamphetamine traffickers had
 

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