Monday, June 3, 2013


My false sense of security that St. John's was different, immune to the type of big city crime issues that I used to see on the Toronto, Montreal, Boston and Detroit newscasts has all but evaporated.

The pictures of an AK-47 Assault rifle used to spray a St. John's neighborhood, following a fire bombing in another, is a starting escalation in the illicit drug and prostitution trade in our city. The police say the events are tied together, that there is a drug war of sorts going on in North America's oldest city.

Assault weapons, high-capacity magazines have arrived. The weapon was certainly not registered, but there it was sitting on the cold dark asphalt on one of our streets.

I am forced to rethink what I accepted as a truism. There is no way of getting away from it, many of us will now have this constant feeling of impending danger. Our world has changed. We have tried to ignore the symptoms. We have tried to put the drug violence of our minds. Burying our collective heads in the sand has only made this weekend's development all the more startling.

The thought that a stray bullet could have claimed an innocent life in a quiet St. John's Neighborhood  filled with young families is disconcerting, if not totally depressing.

That there is a criminal element in our city is nothing news.

No one is that naive.

 Remember the heart wrenching story of the Dale Worthman and Kimberly Locke, the St. Phillips couple that just "disappeared"  from their home in 1993. 13 years later the cold case ended when the bodies of the couple were found in the woods not too far from their homes. A drug related, execution style  homicide. The couple were shot, but they allegedly were in the drug trade, a real shame but if you play with fire, you are going to get burned.

A few months ago, Joey Whalen was murdered at a well known drug depot at 8 Tessier Place. To add insult to his murder, someone dug up his grave in a message of indignity.  Doug Flynn murdered over a drug dispute. The trial of his killer went on for months, providing some insight into the lower level of the local drug trade. CBC ran footage last fall of drug courier dropping bags of drugs at the landing strip in Bell Island.  What about the firefight at the Canadian Tire in Elizabeth Avenue a while back.

What we do not know, is how many other "deaths" are a result of the "trade" in our province. How many people have been bumped off, assaulted, died of overdoses or organ failure exacerbated by drug use, or have died as a result of suicide/misadventure under the influence of illicit drugs?

That people have been intimidated, hurt or even murdered over the drug  trade, heck yes, nothing new there either.

The numbers might surprise you. The number of kids showing up in the emergency wards to be pumped out (if they are lucky) would stagger you. A bit of weed and a beer might be the best we can hope our kids are exposed to.

The reality is there is nothing new here, except that organized element is braszan and have escalated the violence.

It is only a matter of time before some child or innocent bystander takes a bullet. The Hollywood/Television depiction of the violent drug trade on shows like Breaking Bad and  Sons of Anarchy.  Retaliation. A tooth for a tooth. Eye for and eye. A life for a life. It is  culture that intrigues many. These shows get some of the highest ratings in the land. The intrigue of the lawless culture, anti-heroes and the the theme of drugs. Did I mention the lure of easy money.

Was it okay when druggies took out druggies? Stay away from the rough neighborhoods, let the underclass do away with themselves.

That vernier of safety is gone.

Should we be worried about a  catastrophic breakdown of our society? 

Fiction has met reality.  Once you let in the fear, you can’t get away from it.

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