The Bitch was recently put in touch with Will Johnson after a brief email exchange with Coconut Grove community activist Sue McConnell about criminal activity in the McMansion-happy hood. Specifically, the hound had asked, "What's the suggested course of action when .. drug dealing is going on at the home of an immediate neighbor? As in, after you report this person, and he gets a desk appearance ticket and is back to business in hours but certainly they know it's me who reported them, then what? ... Drug dealers don't think they're doing anything wrong; that's why they're in the business they're in. They think you're doing something wrong if you interfere in their commerce. So then what?"
Johnson, the longtime West Grove pundit and occasional columnist for the "Neighbors" section of the Miami Herald and Miami magazine, had plenty to say, which The Bitch is going to kind of reprint verbatim as follows. It's interesting to note, for what it's worth, that Johnson transmitted this manifesto from his miamidade.gov email address, where he works as an aide to District 7 County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez.
Let me start by correcting your first misconception — those who participate in the 'alternate economy' do know very well that what they are doing is 'wrong.' Otherwise they would not try to hide what they do.
If you have a neighbor —as I do — who participates in the drug trade — you could try communications — as I have. I met with my neighbor and told them that I could not in good conscience watch them make deals from their house while I profess to be for cleaning up crime in the neighborhood. I told them If they must do what they must do — then take it elsewhere and respect our street and the kids who play on our street — or — I would have no choice but to report them. That direct approach has worked for my block. I'm sure they have not gotten religion and left the business — but — they no longer conduct business on my street.
Johnson is certainly to be commended for his "war out in the open" style. And he has an interesting philosophical underpinning:
Our intent is not to go after your resident drug dealer neighbor — any way. These are only petty guys who are supplied by big guys who live in mansions on Star Island far above the petty busts and minor harassment of our neighborhood police. It will take the FBI, DEA or IRS to make a dent in their operations. So our local police go on arresting the petty neighborhood Caesars. They keep getting out of jail on a revolving door judicial plan. And, even if they stay in jail, they are quickly replaced by the one of the dozens waiting in line to make a couple hundred dollars a day. Those who live in this community — and you too probably — know the solution. Shift the enforcement emphasis and light to the buyer. Caveat-Emptor. If we make it unattractive for the buyer, white, black, Hispanic, rich or poor — we can dry up this market. Buyers come here because it's conveniently located and most of the time the dealers practice good customer service — and, unlike Overtown, Liberty City or OpaLocka, Grove dealers don't rob or kill them. Over the years they (Grove Dealers) have learned the value of repeat business.
Then Johnson chided The Bitch for her wimpiness: "People who hide their heads in the sand are part of the reason that these petty thugs think they can do what they want, when they want, and intimidate good citizens. We far out number them. They are afraid of us — not the other way around. Why should you expect every one else to confront and report while you hide behind your shutters and reap the reward (safe, clean, neighborhood) without any risk? It's folks who won't make a stand that create the atmosphere for the bad guys to thrive."
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The dog then pointed out that she's not normally shy about a confrontation, she was just askin'. Johnson, ever eloquent, was quick to mitigate: "We are calling on all of our neighbors to step up. If you have -- then know that we are with you. [The drug dealers] have to go -- not you. "
All in all -- especially since The Bitch doesn't find the county government all that effective -- this exchange was informative and satisfactory. Too bad Johnson -- and others who generally give a damn -- can't be cloned and distributed elsewhere in South Florida. —Jean Carey