The murder rates are rising in cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia. In January of 2012, Philadelphia already had racked up 35 homicides, primarily in the North Philadelphia neighborhoods. Chicago’s murder rate is up by 35 percent as of June 2012. Most of this violence is attributed to gang activity in the cities most notoriously violent neighborhood. What officials are not mentioning is that most of the gang activity, shootings, and violence can be related back to the drug trade. Drug dealers use violence in order to protect their “turf” where they sell their narcotics. Drug users in these areas can become increasingly desperate and resort to violence in order to make a dollar. While not every one of the murders may be entirely related to drugs you can sure bet a majority of them can be directly related.
In Philadelphia one of the most tumultuous neighborhoods is the Kensington neighborhood. It is no surprise that Kensington is where the most frequented of open air drug markets operate. As someone who USED to purchase their drugs off various corners in Kensington I speak to you from experience. This area is by far the easiest to purchase narcotics such as Heroin, Crack, and PCP. You would think that these areas would have heavier police presence because of their notorious reputation but it appears to be the opposite. The police presence has seemed to decrease as if all hope has been given up as far as these areas are concerned. Much has been said on how to stop the violence in these cities. Officials have put a lot of emphasis on the gang problem and eradicating the illegal flow of firearms, but not much has been said about how the drug trade in these areas hails supreme over everything.
I’m willing to bet if you took all the drug users out of these neighborhoods and there was suddenly a lack of demand for narcotics, violence and other crime would decrease. Most people aren’t killing because they just want to see someone die. They are killing to get ahead on the streets, for money, for respect and to have the best turf. Most of this can be related back to the trade of narcotics and the pursuit of the precious dollar. Individuals in these neighborhoods grow up feeling “trapped in the streets”. The youth grows up already knowing they are at a disadvantage growing up in impoverished neighborhoods. So naturally they want to have more and one group that is always hiring are the drug dealers.
So what can be done? Well I don’t necessarily have that answer, and if I did, I might not be sitting here writing about the issue, but I know that a real honest effort has to go into stopping the free sales of narcotics in these neighborhoods. We can no longer sit back and let individuals stand on corners and poison our community. The police presence needs to be much higher in neighborhoods that are having the most problems. If you look at what happened in East Harlem, how an indictment of 35 individuals literally changed the entire dynamic of an area and has made it livable for it residents. Examples like that show that change is possible, but action has to be taken. Officials can talk all they would like about what they’re going to do, but until there are people out there in the neighborhoods, on the streets, actively getting involved, you can expect to hear gunshots throughout the night.
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