These Mid-Market blocks are home to perhaps the most lucrative open-air weed market in the city. A few guys sell harder stuff too — ecstasy and opiate pills, mostly — but this neighborhood specializes in reefer. People from all over the Bay Area do business here. More than a dozen hustlers might be working the corners at any given time, making transactions every 10 to 15 minutes during a rush. Each day, thousands of dollars change hands along this five-block stretch.

Nathan Dowd, a 29-year-old family attorney, sees it most mornings. He passes the Jones and Market corner on his way to the office. He knows what's going on.

"The Gauntlet," he and his friends call it. He's seen some of the more brazen salesmen aggressively solicit bystanders, who speed-walk away, avoiding and ignoring the offers. He's seen some of the folks along the Gauntlet drinking tall cans out of paper bags. And he's also seen the scuffles, and the catcalls directed at passing women.

“We’re seriously considering moving to a new location if nothing changes,” said Marwan Eadeh, who in 1987 co-founded World of Stereo, which sits near the corner of Market and Jones.
Josh Edelson
“We’re seriously considering moving to a new location if nothing changes,” said Marwan Eadeh, who in 1987 co-founded World of Stereo, which sits near the corner of Market and Jones.
The police and the hustlers play a daily cat-and-mouse game, with most dealers dispersing when the cops pulls up. This man was detained but not arrested.
Josh Edelson
The police and the hustlers play a daily cat-and-mouse game, with most dealers dispersing when the cops pulls up. This man was detained but not arrested.

He's seen so much of this that one day this summer he decided to send an e-mail to District Six Supervisor Jane Kim, and a copy to Mayor Lee.

"Market Street is the face of our great city and is frequented by residents, tourists, and commuters alike," Dowd wrote. "I find myself apologizing and making extra efforts to assist visitors who are obviously shocked and appalled at the conditions on our city's main walking route."

Dowd, a former corporal in the 82nd Airborne who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not one of those Just Say No prudes. To him, the solution is not sweeping low-level drug dealers into jails, but rather heightening the police presence around the corner to discourage the open illicit activity.

"It's not that we can't stop it, it's that we don't make an effort to stop it," he says. "And that's what's crazy. The market exists because we allow it to exist."

Dowd didn't get a response from the politicians, but he did receive an e-mail from San Francisco Police Department Capt. Joe Garrity of the Tenderloin Station. "The Tenderloin Station conducts narcotics operations, stolen property operations[,] Retail Organized Crime Theft operations along the District border along Mid-Market Street and enforcement operations near the area of Market/Jones Streets." The captain goes on to list 15 recent arrests in the area, before noting that "we have elevated the security baseline in the area of Market/Jones."


"Aaaaayyyyooooo!" somebody on the corner hollers.

Here comes the police cruiser rolling down Market, easing to a stop at the Jones Street intersection. "Black and white! Black and white behind you," another man calls out.

The hustlers disperse, leaving the corner barren. Three of them cross Market and enter a Chinese restaurant. Another heads to a nearby bus stop and takes a seat. Many more meander into the Quick-Stop liquor store a few doors down from the corner, or into the Psychedelic smoke shop beside it. One guy wanders into World of Stereo, an electronics store plopped between the check-cashing joint and Psychedelic.

Inside the patrol car, two beat officers slide their hands into paper fast-food sacks.

"We don't eat our lunch inside anymore, so that we can keep an eye out here," says the one with brown hair. (The officers requested anonymity, noting that they weren't authorized to speak to reporters.) He tilts his head back and drops a bundle of fries into his mouth.

"We arrest guys from all over on this corner — Pittsburg, Antioch, Stockton, Modesto," says the one with blond hair, adding that they make at least one arrest a day here. "We get calls from business owners all the time. It's not just the drug-dealing. It's all the stuff that comes with that — the fights, the drinking, the harassment. But we don't see all of it."

"We pull up and they scatter," the brunet observes. "You try not to let it frustrate you."

Without actually seeing the money and the product change hands, they can't just slap on the cuffs — and many dealers are savvy enough to avoid that. The officers mention that budget cuts, and the resulting staff reductions, have reduced the number of undercover police purchases, called "buy-busts," which are often the most effective strategy for catching drug dealers. The City Charter, following a 1994 ballot initiative, mandates that the police force employ 1,971 officers. Currently, the SFPD operates with fewer than 1,800.

"Nowadays, buy-busts and extra foot patrols are a luxury," says the blond. "It's all about what is the most effective use of the officers we do have in terms of public safety." This area borders the Tenderloin district, after all, home to more than enough stabbings and robberies to occupy a precinct. So while the Park Station assigns an officer specifically to hinder the drug-dealing in Golden Gate Park, that isn't as feasible here.

"We do the best we can," says one of the cops.

"We're here every day," says the other, gazing through the windshield at the empty street corner.

From the officers' post, they can see the middle-aged man standing at the doorway of World of Stereo. His name is Marwan Eadeh and he co-founded the place in 1987, nearly two decades after his family immigrated to San Francisco from Jerusalem.

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4 comments
Guerro
Guerro like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is why blacks and raza are arrested disproportionately for drug crimes.  They sell in the street for fuck's sake.  Tontos!

hplovecraft
hplovecraft topcommenter

    ..And , according to the story , 'not' necessarily out

of 'economic desperation' , either...but that be profilin'...

jonpidock
jonpidock

When you have dope addicts and crack heads openly selling and using hard drugs on the block of Turk and Jones, which is a block away from the police substation, why you chose to write a story and give the front page to a bunch of nickle baggers selling weed is beyond me. Dont encourage them by letting them think what they are doing is actually news worthy.

hplovecraft
hplovecraft topcommenter

"Crapshootin' , "Back on Track".. District supervisor and mayor unresponsive..allowing

the trade to happen [ as a way to thumb their noses at the Federal level of gov't.]. What a

terrible mess this once beautiful city's become...and the parties responsible will get

re-elected or reappointed.. City voters elect them so they can champion the causes for

dope dealers 'from outside' the city and county of S.F..

 
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