"You watch, those officers will be gone in 10 minutes and all those drug dealers will be right back here," he says.

He strolls back into the store, where Tiger Mertha, a rotund man with an affable demeanor, works the register, and Qusta Naser, curly-haired and in his late 20s, stamps orange price tags onto boxed iPhone cases.

"It's getting much worse," says Eadeh. "This is the place to go to get your weed."

City officials seek to turn Mid-Market into the next business-technology-culture hub. In the meantime, the neighborhood features a booming open-air drug industry.
Josh Edelson
City officials seek to turn Mid-Market into the next business-technology-culture hub. In the meantime, the neighborhood features a booming open-air drug industry.
Many customers don’t wait long to sample their purchase.
Josh Edelson
Many customers don’t wait long to sample their purchase.

"These guys, they stand out there morning to night," adds Naser. "The police car comes and they leave. The police car leaves and they come back."

"Takes a lot of business from us," booms Mertha, his hands flailing in the air. "When tourists see them, they go across the street. Look, look at those two girls." He points to a pair of young women slowly rotating a postcard rack at a store's entrance. Each holds bulging brown shopping bags. "If those guys were here," Mertha continues, "they'd be harassing them right now."

"It got worse a couple years ago when they started allowing weed," says Naser. He's referring not just to California's 1996 Proposition 215, which legalized medicinal marijuana in the state, but also the city's 2006 ordinance that officially classified marijuana offenses as law enforcement's lowest priority.

"They get arrested with some weed and they pull out a card and the police let it go!" declares Mertha, incredulous.

"They have a license to sell weed in the streets!" Naser exclaims.

"We see them more than we see our family," says Mertha. "Now every day we smell weed." He shakes his head.

"We call the police at least twice a day," he goes on. "We've filed complaints with City Hall. Nobody cares. Everybody at City Hall just cares to take our property tax money."

Eadeh makes his way back to the open front door of the store. He puts his hands on his hips and swivels his head, taking in the surroundings. The police car is gone. Several hustlers are back on the block, posted up in front of the smoke shop to Eadeh's left, and the check-cashing operation to his right. His lease will end in two and a half years.

"We're seriously considering moving to a new location if nothing changes," he says.


The dealers around World of Stereo make it back to the corner in time to catch the end of the lunch rush.

Trey, though, is two blocks away, exiting the Tenderloin apartment where a girlfriend lives. Built like the high school offensive guard he used to be, he squints his eyes as he steps out of the building's shadow. He's a late riser. He resides in Hayward, and that's a long trip on public transit. So he spends many work nights at the girlfriend's house.

"I know I won't be doing this forever," the 32-year-old says, leisurely strolling with hands in his coat pockets. "I know my mama wouldn't be proud of this."

He's made this short walk down Golden Gate Avenue so often that he reflexively veers to the left side of the sidewalk after crossing Leavenworth Street. Along the stone walls enclosing the majestic Spanish Mission-style St. Boniface Catholic church, anonymous civilians lie motionless and blanketless, passed out from their morning fix, arms folded over eyes to block out the brightness. Some have kicked up their legs onto protruding stones. Some bodies curl-up against the wall, backs to the world.

"I didn't, like, decide to become a hustler," he says, unfazed as he glances down at the sleepers. "I just started doing it way back, made good money and it was easy, and just never stopped."

A few yards later, Trey passes a wrinkly man sitting in a lawn chair. The needle is already in his forearm, and he furrows his brow in concentration as he injects.

Soon, Trey is at Market and Jones, where he's done business for more than 10 years. He joins nine other guys there. Not all of them know each other. Not all of them are selling. One stands at the edge of the corner, angled so that he can see down Jones and Market at the same time, serving as a lookout for his partner and carrying an extra stash. Some guys are just hanging out, sitting in parked cars, driver-side doors swung open, bumping music. Among the salesmen here, Trey is the most aggressive.

He spots a pair of college-age girls and approaches, matching their strides.

"How you doin' today? You want some weed?"

He keeps a slight smile on his face, to soften the interaction. The girls don't acknowledge him and continue their stroll. He retreats to the wall between Western Union and World of Stereo and observes each passerby. While Trey doesn't discriminate among pedestrians, he's been in the game long enough to spot the likeliest demographics: young professionals open to the thrill of a street deal, college students happy to get weed wherever they can find it, older folks in ragged clothes. But he's sold to lawyers and executives, too.

Trey's an outgoing person, the type to make small talk on a bus or ask the cute waitress for her phone number. It suits his current vocation.

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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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