Wednesday, February 18, 2009

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Infamous "Pill House" 3020 6th St. N. Raided By Fourth Precinct Directed Patrol Unit

It happened last night at about 6:30 PM and it was quite a sight.

I was at the residence of HNC Chair Peter Teachout, who is forced to live across the street with his wife and three young children (one more on the way) within plain sight of the constant drug activity pouring forth from 3020 6th St. N. as though a portal to Hades is wide open in the basement. Peter had...

...kindly given me a ride home from work--AGAIN--because of car troubles, and though I had paid him for gas I was, like, yo Peter, I've been leaning on you heavy, here, so let me come to your house and do some work. Peter took me up on it, and I was out in the front yard--it was just beginning to snow big, fluffy flakes--throwing debri in a big construction dumpster. "Pete" (my name for Peter, Jr.) was helping, as much as a 6-year-old can, putting small and moderate sized boards in the dumpster, learning the Protestant work ethic, heavy on the Protestant. Right about then one of Peter's handymen, Mark, pulled up in the street near the dumpster.

I saw movement up 6th St. N, and looked that way...I saw a police cruiser approaching with its lights off, like they do. I said something to Peter, to check that out. Then I saw another cruiser behind the first. And another. And another. And--!

I realized right away what was up. This was the long-anticipated raid on 3020 6th St. N. and, the truth be told, I had caught wind of it over a week ago. Somebody who told somebody had heard the word, and along with the word came the usual instruction, "Don't tell John Hoff, or it will end up on his blog."

Yeah, right. Like I would do that.

The handyman was standing next to his vehicle with the door open. My first concern was there could be gunfire as the police made their way inside, en masse. Me and Peter yelled at the handyman to GET OUT OF THERE!!! I told Pete to go inside the porch. The police parked in unison and ran, silently, toward the front door, hardly glancing in our direction. I saw flashlight beams doing a crazy electric dance from the portals of doors and windows, and a male officer shouting, "GET DOWN, GET DOWN!!!!"

We watched for a while. Work ceased. The police were inside for a long time. After a while, those of us in the peanut gallery grew bored because nobody was perp-walked out the front door, no shots were fired. One begins to wonder if there's anything good on the "Jordan Soap Opera Channel," since this raid appeared to be going nowhere. Peter Teachout began to speculate: the house was dark. Nobody seemed to be home. Nobody was coming out, so perhaps the occupants had been tipped off to the raid beforehand.

We returned to throwing debri in the dumpster while police milled around, and a few of the police left. But after a while, a high-ranking police officer came over and filled us in with numerous details, much to our delight.

First of all, the house had NOT been empty. The "old man" had been inside, as well as the young guy with dreadlocks.

"We call him The Sentry," I told the officer. "Because he's the one who always stands in the door, watching."

"Well," said the officer, "He wasn't doing his job tonight."

There had been many pills in the house, exactly what you'd expect of a "pill house," he said. There had been a small quantity of crack found in "the common area" of the house. Numerous glass pipes were found, as you might expect. The officer said it was an "old-fashioned, 1990s smokehouse" right down to the Brillo pads. Prostitution had apparently taken place there, at least at one time. In the basement was a room with a couple beds and a television, little more, and a collection of DVDs next to the television. In front of Peter's young son, the officer avoided saying more about the DVD collection. I bit my tongue and avoided asking, "Was there a pair of pink pants, walking around by themselves?"

Go ahead, anonymous commenters. Unleash the verbal heat at this point. You can kiss my (expletive)

The officer said nobody would be arrested, however. They would be cited. They might have to go to drug court. We know what that means, and at this point I will speak up instead of the officer, who would probably refrain from criticizing the Hennepin County Court system, even casually and anonymously. Drug court sentences in Hennepin County have included some of the following: sit all day in the jury box and watch sentences. Go to the library, read a book, and write a book report. Take your mother out to dinner and bring His Honor back the receipt.

The officer also mentioned how they had seen the handyman, Mark, pull up and had momentarily considered stopping him for questioning...but they'd quickly figured out he was associated with Peter Teachout, not the house at 3020 6th St. N. Poor Mark the handyman! He shook his head in disbelief. He'd just come over to do some manual labor, and very nearly ended up detained as a suspected druggie.

Despite this lack of a satisfying, manacled perp walk, this raid was the second incident in a year which had resulted in criminal citations. The house at 3020 6th St. N. would be rapidly moving toward nuisance status, and the landlord would be getting a letter.

"I think you call him 'The Devil' on your blog," the officer said, smiling.

Guilty. I did that. And worse. When Jake and Gabe were recording audio for their movie, The Adventures of Johnny Northside: A Subprime Mess, I actually did verbal imitations of The Devil.

Peter Teachout talked about how the house at 3020 6th St. N. was already in foreclosure, and was moving rapidly beyond redemption. The officer said how it's a sad statement, really, that bank foreclosures can do so much to clean up a neighborhood when it's not even their INTENTION, it's just a side effect. Around that time Jeff Skrenes arrived--our Hawthorne Housing Director who has taken so much heat in the last several days, for saying much the same thing:

As bad as the mortgage crisis is--and it is bad, it is devastating--there are some unexpected, positive side effects. Some individuals who constantly deal in drugs and prostitution, and the scummy landlords who shelter them, have been forced to leave the neighborhood, even as new home owners with new hope, new energy are obtaining houses.

After the police left, talk turned to auto insurance. Peter remembered how, after the raid at the end of June, 2008, his truck was torched on the 4th of July. Maybe something similar would happen again. Since he was fond of the new truck, but could use a better van, maybe it was time to park the van out front?

This was, of course, nothing more than kidding around. The van was already parked out front. There was no place else to park it. The more valuable vehicle--the Ford F150 truck--lived in the small garage. If the van is going to get torched, well, there it sits.

All the while--despite the efforts of adults to soft-pedal the severity of what was happening--Pete, the 6-year-old, was taking this all in.

We kept laboring to clean the Teachout basement until about 9:30 pm, hauling buckets of rocks. There was a lot of dark humor. I speculated about the "street value" of the rocks. JoyAnne teachout talked about how, right after they bought their house, low lifes used to knock on the door, looking for drugs, because their house had been a drug house for many years. I did my crackhead imitation: "Well, if you don't have any, you mind telling me where I can get some?"

At one point, I saw the distinctive shadow of "Pops" in the window of the drug house across the street. The high-ranking officer had told us ol' Pops had more different prescription pills than just about any human being the officer had ever met. It is sad. I tried to imagine the stress, the fear, the anger in that house. We dwell next to each other in North Minneapolis, our houses shoulder-to-shoulder, and yet we live in different worlds.

ADDENDUM: I was forwarded a request from the "high ranking police official" to give credit for the raid to the 4th Precinct Directed Patrol Unit. My source says he was "only along for the ride."

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