Pubdate: Fri, 05 Aug 2005
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2005, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Mark David Blum


Just Watch While the Vacuum Sucks in Others

To the Editor:

Congratulations are in order to local police agencies for taking down 
another organized criminal enterprise. Another group of real bad guys is 
now safely behind bars; 16 people destined to spend eternity underground 
somewhere near Lawrence, Kansas.

People can now breathe easier. Children can now play stickball in the 
streets. We can rejoice, as the city is now that much safer.

I want safer streets. "Organized criminal enterprises" are a threat to us 
all. Nobody should have to live in fear of random violence. No group has 
the right to dominate and control a neighborhood. It is unreasonable to 
tolerate sociopathic behavior.

The Post-Standard hooted and howled at the arrests: "Syracuse police Chief 
Gary Miguel said the Boot Camp case resulted in lower crime rates in the 
gang's territory."

Boot Camp? Boot Camp was another gang mass-arrested and prosecuted two 
years ago. Dozens of people's lives were destroyed, and an entire 
generation of young men from a particular neighborhood disappeared. 
Everybody said peace and love would reign.

A brief review of how life in the city has evolved since the Boot Camp 
arrests shows that shootings and drug violence are on the increase. To 
quote the newspaper, " 'A whole new group came in after they took the old 
group away,' said Odell Tillie, who lives in the heart of Boot Camp 
territory near Midland Avenue and West Colvin Street."

Now the U.S. attorney and his minions have hung out huge "Job Opening" 
signs all over the former Elk Block territory. Every time you arrest a drug 
dealer you create a job opening. For obvious reasons, the poor and hopeless 
find their way into the business. Police keep arresting them, and 
prosecutors and judges keep imprisoning them. Demand, however, fuels a 
substantial market vacuum. With the sudden removal of the supplyside of the 
equation and the fantastic sums of money to be made in the business, others 
quickly rush in to fill the void.

What happens, though, when two competing organizations want to market their 
product in the same territory? Death, destruction, shootings, violence and 
instability in the market. Look at the history since the Boot Camp arrests: 
more money, more police; more arrests and imprisonments; drug violence 

Prohibitionists are to blame. Instead of working for a way to enable 
business disputes to be settled with high-powered lawyers in courtrooms, 
they insist on a policy that leaves no option but high-powered weapons on 
street corners.

Fortunately for all of us, the gangs that moved into the former Boot Camp 
territory cannot shoot straight.

That giant sucking sound you hear coming now from Elk Block will draw in 
another generation. In two years, will you applaud Chief Miguel when he 
sweeps up another generation of young adult males in a particular 
neighborhood? What a horrifying picture: an entire community whose only way 
out of poverty and hopelessness is through federal prison.

The Syracuse Common Council is now considering what is affectionately 
referred to as "Plan B" an alternative to prohibition. The business of 
drugs and the monopoly held by organized crime is so bad, so dangerous, 
that the only rational policy is containment, regulation and control.

We have spent 30 years and hundreds of billions of dollars enforcing this 
failed policy of prohibition. Are you going to change your policy before or 
after these new gangs learn how to better aim their weapons? How many more 
dead and wounded is it going to take?

Mark David Blum

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