What Are Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw Doing About Open Air Drug Markets in Philly?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

According to Wikipedia, the Philadelphia Badlands

 is a section of North Philadelphia and Lower Northeast PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, United States, that is known for an abundance of open-air recreational drug markets and drug-related violence. It has amorphous and somewhat disputed boundaries, but is generally agreed to include the 25th police district.

Usually, it is widely understood to be an area between Kensington Avenue to the east and Broad Street to the west, and between Hunting Park Avenue to the north and York Street to the south, mostly coinciding with the neighborhoods of FairhillGlenwoodHunting ParkHarrowgateStantonNorth CentralWest KensingtonHartranft, and Kensington.

The term “The Badlands” was popularized in part by the novel Third and Indiana by then Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Steve Lopez. The neighborhood also was featured in several episodes of ABC’s Nightline. The intersection of 3rd Street and Indiana Avenue was listed number two in a 2007 list of the city’s top ten drug corners according to an article by Philadelphia Weekly reporter Steve Volk.

The term Badlands was first used by Lt. John Gallo, who headed the East Division Narcotics Task Force. Its use spread, with many people attempting to take credit for the moniker. It was Gallo’s work along with ASAC Billy Retton that worked about a dozen long-term investigations in the 25th and 26th Police Districts that preceded “Operation Sunrise”. Ted KoppelGeraldo Rivera20/20 and 48 Hours all rode with Gallo at one time or another, and it was during this time that Gallo was able to make the name stick.

I wrote yesterday about the open-air drug market publicized by The Philadelphia Inquirer. I had thought that maybe, just maybe, the publicity would push Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and the Philadelphia Police to raid the place, to arrest the drug dealers — and hopefully the addicts as well, but I really didn’t expect that — and seize the illegal drugs and guns found there.

So, at 11:40 AM EDT this morning, I did Google searches for police raid drug market and police raid drug market Philadelphia. I found a few stories about law enforcement raids in Missouri and even incompetent Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago:

Feds bust open-air drug market in Humboldt Park, charging 18

Undercover agents allegedly made about 80 purchases from the market during a year-long investigation dubbed “Operation Monticello’s Revenge.”

By David Struett @dstru312 | July 20, 2020 | 5:58 PM CDT

The feds have charged 18 men who allegedly worked at an open-air drug market in Humboldt Park, where undercover agents allegedly made about 80 purchases during a year-long investigation dubbed “Operation Monticello’s Revenge.”

Most of the men were arrested last week on charges of federal drug conspiracy in connection to the drug market in the 1000 block of North Monticello Avenue, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago announced Monday.

According to a criminal complaint, Sam Howard and Kelvin Franklin worked as street-level managers of the market, coordinating the sale of fentanyl-laced heroin, and personally sold drugs to undercover officers more than a dozen times each.

Oops! Sorry, it was federal agents, not the Chicago Police who did that; no credit goes to Mayor Lightfoot.

In Philly? I found this story about a police raid on drug markets . . . last February. Then there was another raid in April:

Police Arrest 60 Buyers/Dealers in Massive Drug Sweep in Philadelphia; Release Mugshots and Names

by: iradioal | started: 04/04/15 8:30 am | updated: 04/04/15 8:30 am

Philadelphia Police have arrested 60 people and seized two dozen vehicles in a massive drug sweep in Fairhill on Thursday. The department’s east division set up in multiple locations in the 25th district near the intersections of Waterloo and West Cambria streets, North Front and West Cambria streets, North Swanson and East Somerset streets, Rosehill and East Cambria streets, and East Tusculum and East Somerset streets. Those arrested ranged in age from 17 to 67. Forty were alleged buyers and twenty were alleged sellers. Out of those arrested about 35% are from the suburbs who came to the neighborhood’s open air drug markets looking to buy or sell a variety of drugs including pills, heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana.

Philadelphia Police Insp. Melvin Singleton wants to close down the drug market and dissuade anyone from coming to the 25th district (which also includes North Philly, Feltonville, Fairhill, and Hunting Park). “If you think it’s a good idea to come to Philadelphia to buy drugs…if you think it’s a good idea to come to Philadelphia to sell drugs, you will be arrested. Your vehicle will be confiscated.” The police say these kind of arrest operations will continue around the city.

The area raided today was only blocks away from other drug hot beds in neighboring Kensington. Neighbors want to see the entire area cleaned up so that children can walk to school, people can feel safe on their own blocks, and the streets no longer are occupied by dealers selling and addicts getting high.

There was even a major raid just before last Christmas in the Fairhill and Kensington neighborhoods, including Allegheny Avenue, mentioned in yesterday’s Inquirer article. But nothing yesterday.

The Philadelphia Badlands exist because the city government and law enforcement allow them to exist. Crime ridden neighborhoods exist because law enforcement doesn’t shut them down. Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg cleaned up New York City with a harsh attitude toward crime and the ‘broken windows’ policing philosophy, but Philadelphia never followed suit, and that’s why the Badlands exists. George Soros poured over a million dollars into getting an anti-police, anti-law enforcement District Attorney, Larry Krasner, elected, and that’s what Philadelphia got: a contracted, weakened Police Department and a soaring crime rate.

As of 11:59 PM EDT yesterday, 276 homicides were recorded in the City of Brotherly Love. That’s a 31% increase over the same day last year, more than the entire year’s murder totals in 2013 and 2014, and just one fewer than the entire year total for 2016.¹

In 230 days, Philadelphia has seen 276 homicides. That’s 1.2 murders per day. With 136 days remaining, if the average holds, that’s an additional 163 homicides, for a projected total of 439 people. There were 280 people murdered in 2015, Mayor Michael Nutter’s and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey’s last full year in office; if their regime could get the murder rate down, as it did, then the blame has to fall on Mayor Kenney, DA Krasner and Commissioner Outlaw.

Well, who knows? Perhaps Commissioner Outlaw is planning a big raid in the Badlands, now that the Inquirer has publicized the problems, and it’s just taking a few days to get the planning and organization done. Mayor Kenney might be very incensed, since the photos in the Inquirer showed the junkies not wearing facemasks!

But the drug raids of the past haven’t done anything; they got a few bad guys off the streets, recovered some drugs and cash and weapons, but all of that is back in place now. Philadelphia needs the law enforcement raids, yes, and a lot more funding for the Police Department, but what it really needs is a change of attitude among the city leadership, a no nonsense, zero tolerance attitude toward crime, toward all crime, and toward illegal drugs. Mayor Kenney was re-elected in 2019, so he still has 3½ years remaining.² He was just great at raising a ‘sugary drink tax,’ to take a bigger bite out of a Big Gulp, but on making Philly safer, not so much.

District Attorney Krasner was elected in 2017, meaning he won’t face the voters until 2021. Wikipedia noted of Mr Krasner:

In his first week in office, Mr Krasner fired 31 prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office, including both junior and career supervisory staff. Up to one-third of the homicide prosecutors in the office were dismissed. Those fired represented nearly a 10% reduction in the number of Philadelphia assistant district attorneys.

In February 2018, Krasner announced that law enforcement would no longer pursue criminal charges against those caught with marijuana possession. That same month, Krasner instructed prosecutors to stop seeking cash bail for those accused of some misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Krasner said that it was unfair to keep people in detention simply because they could not afford bail. He also announced that the DA’s office had filed a lawsuit against a number of pharmaceutical companies for their role in the city’s opioid epidemic. Krasner instructed prosecutors to stop charging sex workers who had fewer than three convictions.

In March 2018, it was reported that Krasner’s staffers were working on creating a sentence review unit–the first of its kind in the country–to review past cases and sentences, and seek re-sentencing in cases when individuals were given unduly harsh punishments. Also in March 2018, it was reported that Krasner instructed prosecutors to: “Offer shorter prison sentences in plea deals. Decline certain classes of criminal charges. And explain, on the record, why taxpayers should fork over thousands of dollars per year to incarcerate people.” He said,

Fiscal responsibility is a justice issue, and it is an urgent justice issue. A dollar spent on incarceration should be worth it. Otherwise, that dollar may be better spent on addiction treatment, on public education, on policing and on other types of activity that make us all safer.

The statistics seem to indicate that the esteemed Mr Krasner’s policies have not made Philadelphians safer. But that’s what happens when you put a social justice warrior in office.

You might ask: why do I care? After all, I don’t live in Philadelphia, and I moved out of Pennsylvania entirely three years ago. I don’t vote in Pennsylvania and I don’t pay taxes to the Keystone State.

But I worked in the Philadelphia area, traveling all around the city and the suburbs doing quality control work for a ready-mixed concrete company. Even after I left that position and started working further north, I picked up a copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer every day on my way to work.³ Philly is the city in which the Continental Congress met, in which our Declaration of Independence was signed. I want to see good for the city, but good isn’t happening there.

Now, Philadelphia is a warning, a warning for all who love our country, who want to see good for the United States, a warning as to what can and will happen if “progressives” and their cockamamie ideas achieve governing power. Philadelphia is an experiment in liberal and lax government, an experiment gone horribly wrong. I want to publicize what is happening there, to hopefully help others to step back, and see what a nightmare it has become.
¹ – The statistics in yesterday’s report from the Philadelphia Police were 261 murders; since there wasn’t a 15-man massacre yesterday, I have to assume that a significant update in the statistics occurred in the postings.
² – This being his second consecutive term, Mr Kenney is term limited out.
³ – The men at the plant always complained, saying that I should have picked up the Allentown Morning Call instead, because it was closer to local news for them.
Please visit my Red State story archive for more of my articles.
My personal website, The First Street Journal, includes articles not necessarily in Red State’s paradigm.
You can follow me on Twitter.