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Cracked Up: A Drug Epidemic Creates Fissures in the City’s Southeastern Neighborhoods. 

Wednesday, Mar 11 2015

The Hunters Point shooting was a rude awaking for San Francisco, marking a macabre midpoint in the gang wars that plagued the city during the crack epidemic.

A story in the Torrance Daily Breeze a year before the April 1989 drive-by painted a frightening picture of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods beset by crack and gang violence.

The story described shootouts in city public housing projects and cited a RAND Corp. study that ranked San Francisco as fifth in the nation among big cities with cocaine-related hospital admissions.

"Families are selling (crack), families are using," Charlotte Tillman, director of the Bayview-Hunters Point Foundation's youth drug counseling, said. "It's a way of life — survival in the projects."

From late 1987 to spring 1988, the report said, police arrested more than 5,000 people for drug sales alone.

The crack epidemic forced San Francisco to build an emergency jail in San Bruno just to house all the people being arrested.

The jail now stands empty, but its warehouse-like nature is easy to see. It was merely several walled rooms with open floor plans and beds. Guards monitored the prisoners from a perch protected by Plexiglas. JOL

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb


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