Bust Of 'Open Air Drug Market'An Annual Affair
The drug sweep at the Hammel Houses public housing complex last week is just the latest of what has become an annual event this time of the year. In February of 2006, police officers busted 33 people in the area around the Dix-McBride Houses and the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway. In that seven-month operation, undercover police officers made 140 separate buys of cocaine and marijuana. In February of 2007, cops busted 42 drug dealers at the Hammel Houses in Rockaway Beach. In that four-month undercover operation, cops made 150 separate buys of cocaine and marijuana. Many of those arrested in the sweeps were members of the Bloods and Get It In Bricks (GIB) gangs. In October of 2007, cops went back to the Redfern Houses, which sit on Rockaway's border with Nassau County, and arrested 50 for drug sales and on weapons charges. Just this week, police once again hit the Hammel Houses, arresting 33 individuals on drug-related charges. And the beat goes on. Look at the pages of The Wave reporting those police sweeps. The names will become familiar, because there are a number of criminals that have been arrested twice and a few who have been arrested three times in the drug sweeps. This time, Queens District Attorney termed the activity in Hammels as "an open air drug market." There are some who believe that this activity impacts only the Hammels community. In fact, it impacts everybody who lives in Rockaway, and it has to stop. First of all, the rules must be enforced. If a person living in a public housing apartment is found guilty of drug activity, the rules say, the entire family must be evicted. Enforcing that rule would go a long way to stopping teens from using their familys' apartment' for drug dealing. Secondly, there must be a concerted education effort to tell teens about the downside of using and selling drugs. The problem there is that everybody, including our black elected officials and the NAACP, seems to be looking the other way, more concerned with how police treat black youth than with the criminal activities that seem to enthrall many black teens, especially young males who dote on the world of hip-hop and gansta rap. Third, there must be something for them to do with their time. It may sound banal, but a community center where they can play basketball and stay out of trouble is a key. The planned YMCA, only ten short blocks from Hammels, must be built and it must be built soon, whether or not it is perfect in the eyes of Rockaway activists. And lastly, the "three times and you're out" law must be reinstated. People who are arrested over and over again must be put away where they can do society no more harm.