Wednesday, June 02, 2010

LA’s Homeless

We posted on the Skid Row situation in Los Angeles in 2007, and this report from National Public Radio notes the current status, describing a scene probably and sadly, replicated wherever the homeless congregate.

An excerpt.

“The streets of Skid Row are paved with crack cocaine, heroin and just about every kind of illegal substance. For years, the area in downtown Los Angeles has been a haven for drug dealers preying on the thousands of homeless people living on the streets — but now the LAPD is trying to crack down on specific dealers.

"You see it day in and day out," says one woman too afraid to give her name. She describes the neighborhood as an open-air market for narcotics dealers. "They do it right in front. It's not even on the sly anymore."

“To demonstrate how pervasive the problem is, LAPD senior lead officer Deon Joseph took NPR to one of his favorite lookout posts: the rooftop of a homeless shelter. Within moments, a transaction occurred directly below.

"See that guy in the wheelchair right there? Looks like he may be trying to stuff a crack pipe," Joseph whispered. "Yup, he just made a drug deal."

“Officer Joseph says deals like this happen so quickly and so often, it's impossible to catch every street dealer. He says Skid Row is filled with "sheep" — the addicts who live there — and "wolves" — those who exploit and brutalize the homeless.
At a park on San Julian Street, dealers play cards, passing time between sales.

"The tables are where a lot of the shot callers sit," Joseph explains. "Three or four of them just passed by us just now. I'm looking at about seven ringleaders, eight midlevel enforcers and three or four lookouts."

'They Don't Run Anymore'

“For years, Joseph and the other officers have arrested drug dealers, only to see them right back on the streets. With California prisons so overcrowded, many inmates serve only a fraction of their sentences.”