Residents, merchants feeling squeezed by drug trade on south Minneapolis block

Residents say they need more police help at E. 29th St. and Bloomington Av. 

The saying goes, among those who live or work along the 2900 block of Bloomington Avenue, that you should never mow your lawn without first checking for needles.

Teddi Crowe knows it to be true.

He’s gotten used to the open-air drug market that operates more or less around the clock on this stretch in south Minneapolis’ Midtown Phillips neighborhood, frustrating residents and business owners alike.

“They’re like zombies — you can’t talk to them,” he said of the junkies who shuffle past the Red Lake Nation Embassy, where he works as an outreach coordinator. “I tell them: ‘You know, the Creator didn’t put you here for you to be like this.’ ”

Determined to slow the area’s drug traffic, neighbors have started to fight back, picking up discarded needles, shooing away dealers and hanging signs that read, “We care.”

At the same time, police have stepped up their patrols there. They also parked a mobile camera at the northeast corner of Bloomington and E. 29th Street — an unblinking electronic eye that they hope will make dealers think twice before setting up shop there.

Every now and then, a black-and-white police SUV will post up across the street, or in a grassy lot nearby, sending troublemakers scattering. But, he said, they usually only migrate a few blocks away, where they wait out the police before returning. And the trouble starts all over again, he said.

For Crowe and others, the struggle to reclaim this block symbolizes the depth of the opioid epidemic that is gripping parts of Minneapolis, particularly the American Indian community.

On a recent day, Crowe sat in the office of the center’s director, Muriel Dickenson, airing his frustrations with what he saw as the lack of adequate police protection. Dickenson nodded along, saying her bigger concern was the safety of the neighborhood kids who frequent a playground that sits between the center and a neighboring apartment complex. And, she said, some fearful community elders have stopped showing up for appointments at the center, billed as a one-stop shop of services for city-dwelling members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.

“We have elders going in here, we have kids coming in here — we don’t want riffraff coming in here,” said Dickenson, who like others has started packing the overdose-reversal drug, naloxone, in her purse.

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"Residents, merchants feeling squeezed by drug trade on south Minneapolis block"; By Libor Jany; Star Tribune; Aug 12, 2019

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