Regarding your story on the barricade erected on the edge of Over-the-Rhine ("To the Barricades," issue of March 9-15) and the question posed by Marvin Butts about why he wasn't told about it, "Is it because I'm a cowboy?" — I would ask whether it could be that this has nothing to do with him at all but is rather an attempt to "chase off these Kentucky white boys down here to buy drugs," as he says in the article. For that reason alone, it seems that Butts would be more interested in being a part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem. Could it be that he wasn't paying attention until the Pendleton Neighborhood Council really did what they said they were going to do?
Even though the study done by the University of Cincinnati's Division of Criminal Justice reports that the barricades have had "little effect," it has yielded some valuable information for law enforcement and has focused attention on 12th Street. In August 2002, when I made a visit to the police district not five minutes from Republic Street and reported blatant drug dealing on that street, I was told by the police officer at the front desk, "If we run one bunch off, another bunch will just move in." With that kind of hopeless attitude, what can we expect to change? I would venture only the location of the drug dealing!
Alexandria Police Chief Mike Ward has a different opinion about the effectiveness of the barricades on the traffic of heroin into his neighborhood, according to a recent Enquirer article.
The remarks of Gary Gabbard in your article — he stopped using the front door of his house in order to avoid the drug dealers on his street — were reminiscent of the story of a young mother at a Cincinnati City Council meeting I attended.
She related to council how she and her small son crawled through their home for fear of being hit by a random bullet. She was living in a war zone fueled by the drug dealing taking place around her house.
Where is that freedom we hear so much about? Obviously not in her neighborhood or in Gabbard's either.
I applaud Gabbard's refusal to "watch quietly as the barricades come down." I sincerely hope that "nothing happens" to his wife either, but if something should happen I hope that he'll hold someone accountable.
City Councilman Jim Tarbell is to be commended for wanting the barricade to remain "at least through the summer, the busiest time for drug traffic." He has offered some good suggestions for what could be happening in the meantime. As he continued to comment on the situation, he made some other very valid points — yet at the article's conclusion, his remarks were troubling to say the least.
It's unconscionable to me that Tarbell could agree even slightly with those who think the drug culture is victimless — "It's really OK, they're not hurting anybody, all they're doing is selling drugs." I would challenge him to say that to the parents in Northern Kentucky R.A.D. (Residents Attacking Drugs) and double dare him to say that to the members of P.E.A.C.E. (Parents Enduring Addiction Consequences Everyday), a grief group for families who have lost loved ones to drugs.
We're painfully aware that those drugs came in large part from Tarbell's fair city. People in Over-the-Rhine and elsewhere aren't just "selling drugs" but instead are being allowed to commit murder by hawking deadly chemicals as often as not in plain view.
My son is one of those "Kentucky white boys" who won't be bothering Butts with or without the barricades. He died in the summer of 2002, Aug. 19 to be exact. He was 23 years young when he died of a heroin overdose. Tell me again how "all they're doing is selling drugs."
Tarbell is definitely on the right track when he says one thing: "It's time to do something."
Editor's Note: As reported in All the News That Fits on page 16, city council voted last week to remove the barricade from 13th Street in the Pendleton district of Over-the-Rhine.