The idea behind the "crack tour" was that the city of Minneapolis was punishing landlords who tolerated drug dealing in or near their properties while an open drug market was flourishing on the street in plain view of the police. The city police did little or nothing to control this problem while private parties, including landlords, were held to high standards of police work.
Therefore, two members of Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee, Charlie Disney and Mel Gregerson, conducted crack tours in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, just south of I-94, in a mini van. Charlie was the driver and Mel the contact man with the drug dealers, sitting on the passengers side in the front seat. In the back of the van would be an invited guest, usually a political official or dignitary, who would witness the transaction. The idea was to show elected officials how easy it was to purchase crack cocaine in certain neighborhoods of Minneapolis. In all, this pair of landlords conducted about twenty-five such tours in the late 1990s. A U.S. Congressman even participated. (He was so excited that he wrote the Governor urging him to take the tour.)
Now Mel and Charlie did not actually purchase the drugs. With his window rolled down, Mel would make eye contact with a drug dealer on the street. The two would talk for a few minutes. They would haggle over price. Sometimes the drugs would be passed to persons in the van for inspection. But in the end, Mel would decline the drug dealers offer and the van would drive away. Even so, it was a dangerous activity.
Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee offered to take top officials of the Democratic National Committee on crack tours in Minneapolis while Minneapolis was under consideration as the host city for the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The party officials did not accept this offer. Minneapolis was not selected as the site of the convention.
Actually, the landlords associated with Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee did not originate the idea of crack tours. It was the brainchild of a member of the Park Avenue Block Club in Phillips neighborhood. Mel, who owned an apartment building on Park Avenue, was also a member of that group. The Park Avenue Block Club even produced a brochure for the tour. This brochure, nicely illustrated, was printed on two sides of colored 8.5 by 11 paper. The text reads:
"Minneapolis Crack Tours
You are cordially invited to join us on a civic tour to personally experience a future state of the City of Minneapolis. We have witnessed appalling deterioration in neighborhood livability in the past few years, despite our pleas for help from City Hall. The decay will expand well beyond Phillips Neighborhood if decisive action is not taken. During your tour you will experience profound truths about public safety and our childrens learning environment which will be in shocking contrast to what you have been told.
Our tour begins at Four Winds Elementary School, the only school in the state whose students practice bullet drills. City Halls failure to provide public safety in our neighborhood is exemplified by this Four Winds Elementary School / Peavey Park block. Our state legislature mandates that elementary schools and parks are Safety Zones, with harsher penalties for drugs and weapons. The leadership of Minneapolis, through intent or incompetence, has effectively created a drug and weapon Containment Zone in this elementary school/ park block.
In contrast to a safe environment for children, this Safe Zone is the bloodiest, most fearful block in Minnesota, having been the site of two murders and scores of assaults and gunshots in the past few months. This is the worst conceivable learning environment for our elementary children. After the tour we request that you call the Mayor and share your assessment of her much proclaimed Education and Zero Tolerance Crime initiatives.
South on Park, not the vacant historic mansions.
A senior high rise/ nursing home on y our left has organized a resident
citizen patrol. We envision a Minneapolis where our octogenarians are
relieved of street patrol duty.
Nearby, Block Club member Jerry and his non-profit took over a Vice Lords gang controlled building at great personal risk. Jerry now runs and exemplary operation. If only the City would now remove the gangsters from our streets. Block Club member, Mohamed, is often visible warning drug dealers away from groups of small children.
The mayors office and police administration take sport in blaming landlords for the lack of public safety in the Containment Zone. Due to the Open Air Drug Market in the Containment Zone, occupying a drug apartment in this location is as profitable as being awarded a corn dog concession at the State Fair. Dealers have offered $50-$100 per day to vulnerable residents for the use of an apartment to service street sales here. You may see landlord Dave patrolling with his dog, Spike. During a recent citizens arrest by Block Club members Dave and Mel, they restrained a drug dealer for 52 minutes before an MPD (police) squad car arrived to back them up. How long do you think our response time is for a low priority call, like selling crack on the play ground? It is believed that police response times are slower in the Containment Zone than in nearby wealthier neighborhoods.
Our 3rd Precinct officers are excellent and put their hearts into their work. After your tour, we believe you will agree that there are not enough of them to do the job. Block Club member and senior citizen, Joyce, owns a nearby home. Joyce frequently crawls on her floors as gunshots volley outside. She thinks of moving, but cannot sell her home because her property value has dropped 60% in recent years.
Interstate 94 is the north boundary of the Containment
Zone. As you cross you will notice an eerie, abrupt absence of drug
dealers and street disorder. You may see 2nd Precinct MPD squad cars
in the vicinity. On our block these cars are known as the Border
Patrol. The 35W boundary, west on Franklin, is the same.
Minneapolis is the only Minnesota city which tolerates an open air drug market such as this. City Hall enables Addicts to openly sell crack and their bodies. This nurtures the rapid growth of an underclass of addicts, who are the most grim victims of this policy. Containment also destroys neighborhood livability and our childrens playing and learning environment. Tell City Hall that Containment is bad public policy and must cease!
Trained Guides Available - Tour guides are available by contacting a member of the Park Avenue Block Club / Citizens Coalition. A Five Star Tour!!! We spotted 23 drug dealers in 20 minutes! - Cindy, Mpls.
Self-Guided Tours: You may take a self-guided tour. Keep car doors locked, windows rolled up. If you venture from your vehicle, do not leave it unattended. Drug dealers are easily identified - drive slowly and make eye contact with individuals who are loitering near the sidewalk. Those who wave you over or approach your vehicle are drug dealers. we cannot be responsible for personal safety on your tour. Best viewing times are 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Please do not feed the drug dealers.
To self guided tourers, thank you, in advance, for going beyond your civic duty to the City of Minneapolis..