I just read about a narcotics sweep in Hunting Park — it occurred on Thursday, March 1, at two homes on the 4000 block of N. Fairhill St., according to a report on Philly.com — in which police confiscated dope, a plethora of firearms, plus a bunch of cockfight roosters.
Truly, this event is a victory for the good guys in the Philly drug war, and for rooster enthusiasts across the region.
Except, we should question if victories like these really help (in the drug war, I mean. This is obviously a great success in the ongoing war on people who abuse chickens).
What I’m asking is that, after all of the hard work and loads of money spent on preparing for and executing a drug raid like this, are Philly streets any safer?
The answer, obviously, is a resounding “No!”
I wrote this column the morning after that narcotics sweep. Just about two hours ago, I grabbed an egg-and-cheese sandwich at the McDonald’s at 2nd Street and Lehigh Avenue and — what a surprise — there were just as many addicts shambling toward the dope corners as there are on any other morning.
Arresting dope dealers is a lot like killing roaches — for every critter you squash there are dozens that escape.
In the ongoing drug war, police brass seem to love to show their officers hauling out bundles of dope and drug money, as if squashing those particular bugs are going to make a dent in the overall infestation.
Think about all the drug raids, which can cost countless dollars and can cause so much drug-related violence, and in the end they do little — except to help create massive prison industrial complexes.
All of it hasn’t done squat to slow the narcotics trade. The war on drugs is a battle of attrition that Philly can’t win.
Think about it this way: The intersection of Kensington Avenue at Somerset Street might as well be gangland Chicago during the Prohibition era.
Except, in Chicago, Al Capone and the rum-running mobs terrorized the country only from 1919 to 1933 — before people realized that booze hounds are going to get their product one way or another.
All those years ago, we saw this same thing happen. By outlawing the product, lawmakers created a system that pumped untold dollars and power into the hands of organized-crime rings.
When the Prohibition era was over, organized crime lost much of its influence.
It’s a proven fact.
It’s also common sense and it’s analogous to the drug war we see on Philly streets every day.
So why are we still waging a war on drugs?
I don’t think there’s any difference between the mobsters who ran booze in the 1920s and the gangsters who run drugs in Kensington.
If we ended the drug war — which means we are essentially living in an era of drug prohibition — those murder-happy knuckleheads peddling drugs on the corner would lose the stranglehold they currently enjoy in large tracts of the city.
I mean, Al Capone would have been nobody without illegal booze.
A drug dealer (let’s call him “Ray Ray”) standing under a streetlight at the intersection of 20th and Dauphin streets is no different.
I don’t know about you, but I like my tax dollars to be spent on effective government policies.
I don’t mind the government taking my money to build better schools or to help old people get cheap medicine or to keep SEPTA vehicles from smelling like toilets.
But when it comes to our taxes financing a losing and misguided drug war? No, thank you.
Especially when anyone can open a history book and learn about the mess that was alcohol prohibition.
But, for a moment, let me go back to what I started to talk about — the roosters and guns. Yes, cockfight chickens were rescued in that recent drug raid.
Those scumbags were forcing living creatures to tear themselves to bits for the amusement of animal-abusing sociopaths.
The same dirtballs in that raid were also armed with shotguns.
Now, the war on cockfighters who carry shotguns is a battle worth fighting, for one simple reason: It can be won.
Not so with the war on drugs.
Until we recognize that reality (that there will always be drug addicts and there will always be gangsters providing them with products), we’re going to keep pouring — and wasting —money fighting this drug war of attrition. ••
“Riverward Rants” reflects the opinions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown resident, area native and writer of the Web site PhillyNeighbor.com, where he makes cynical (and uncensored) comments about life in the riverwards. He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com.