Pubdate: Fri, 27 Apr 2001
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2001 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Dana DiFilippo


The message seemed indisputable.

"Down with Dope! Up with Hope!" and "Drug Dealers Are No Good!"

But on a Kensington street corner last night, a pack of scowling teen-agers 
heckled a half-dozen antidrug activists and some supportive residents who 
rallied to reclaim their community from crime.

"What you do don't matter!" one teen shouted, as others chimed in their 
agreement. Police stepped in before the two sides could get nose-to-nose.

C.B. Kimmins looked at his antagonists knowingly.

"Drug dealers," the Mantua anti-drug crusader announced. "Why else would 
they be angry about efforts to fight drugs?"

Activists like Kimmins have fought for years to take back drug-plagued 
corners like A and Westmoreland streets, where they demonstrated last 
night. The intersection is in the heart of the crime- and blight-busting 
Operation Sunrise territory.

The exchange between the surly hecklers and chanting activists illustrates 
the unending tug-of-war in many communities between hard-working residents 
looking to clean up their streets and the endless stream of drug dealers 
who sully them.

This week, the drug fighters suffered a setback - the beating Saturday of a 
Harrowgate activist - and a satisfying victory - the bust of an alleged 
major marijuana ring - in their fight to banish the bad guys from their 

On Saturday night, a known drug dealer and his family attacked Regina 
Farrell, a 1999 City Council candidate and president of the Concerned 
Citizens of Harrowgate, outside her home in retaliation for Farrell's 
testimony against one of the family members in an assault case, Farrell said.

Police spokeswoman Lt. Susan Slawson confirmed that police were 
investigating the brawl, in which six people attacked Farrell, her husband 
and their daughter, 23.

"I'm the biggest rat the city has," Farrell said of her frequent tattling 
to police. "But they're not going to do this. . .here. I live here; I will 
stay here. They're not making me move. The bad people should leave and the 
good people should stay. We need more people to stand up against this."

Farrell said the fight started when a neighbor's daughter whom she helped 
convict by testifying against her two years ago jumped her. When Farrell's 
daughter and hubby came to her aid, the woman's family and friends joined 
in the fray.

It took police 35 minutes to respond to 911 calls about the fight, 
neighbors said. Farrell said she, her husband and her daughter suffered 
multiple cuts and bruises in the meantime as their attackers beat them with 
hockey sticks, keys, an antique musket and fists and feet. Her daughter 
suffered a concussion, she added.

Investigators couldn't be reached last night.

But while antidrug activists lamented Farrell's attack, they drew strength 
from yesterday's arrests of six alleged marijuana dealers.

Police said they seized more than $93,000 in cash, marijuana with an 
estimated street value of $195,000, two cars, two guns and drug 
paraphernalia in the early-morning raids on three homes in Juniata, 
Feltonville and Kensington.

They arrested Chagito Almodovar, 32, the group's alleged leader, a 
16-year-old girl and four adults and charged them with various drug 
offenses. The six sold drugs at A and Ontario streets, police said.

News of the bust drew grins from the activists and residents at last 
night's rally, but the smiles were short-lived.

"There's plenty of other dealers to take their place," said Pat Marston, 
45, who has lived in Kensington for 23 years and works at Sheppard School.

"The police are doing the best they can, but the people of the neighborhood 
have to cooperate, too. We have more good people in the neighborhood than 
drug dealers. We outnumber them but you'd never know it."

Resident Nilda Rivera, who said she attends most of the weekly antidrug 
rallies, admits it's hard not to lose hope.

"This is like a jungle. This is one block from the police station, but it's 
like Vietnam, trying to survive," said Rivera, who has lived there 18 years.
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