Pubdate: Tue, 18 Dec 2007
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2007 Belleville News-Democrat
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Racial Issues)


Two stories during the weekend made us wonder about the future of our 

The first examined a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling and its 
interpretation by the federal courts that could lead to sentence 
reductions for 380 convicted local crack dealers, with 18 to 37 of 
them potentially eligible for immediate release. The justices decided 
that higher penalties for crack than for powder cocaine were unjust 
and racially unfair -- powder cocaine being an elite drug and crack 
being the drug of poor, black communities.

The second story was that East St. Louis had recorded its 29th 
homicide of the year. The last time there were so many killings in 
the city was in 1997, when there were 30.

We don't know the motive behind all 29 killings, but so many of them 
are portrayed as senseless and random. We imagine most are less than 
random and are linked to drugs when we hear that a guy from 
Belleville or O'Fallon was shot in the middle of the night, that a 
car full of young men was sprayed with bullets, or that people were 
shot in their front yards.

We've said it often, but none of this will improve until community 
members, secular and religious leaders from above and below the 
bluffs as well as law enforcement from federal, state, county and 
municipal agencies decide too many have died and begin working 
together for a solution.

And with 37 experienced crack dealers, fresh from the federal pen's 
"finishing school," potentially on their way back to town, this is 
the time to start.

This scourge will not stay in our neighbor's house. It eventually 
will consume ours.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom