Pirate on Patrol

BY C J SPARROW

Editor’s Note:  Southside Pride has been concerned about safety on Lake Street.  We feel there is a need for some kind of foot patrol to talk to people who walk and work on the Street and who live in the neighborhood and find out what’s happening.  We don’t have the money to hire a private security firm, and C. J. Sparrow doesn’t have the money to buy ads for his campaign for Mayor, so we agreed to publish ads for C. J. in exchange for him walking up and down Lake Street and talking to people on the Street about what’s happening.  Our arrangement with C. J. is in no way an endorsement of his candidacy.
Daniel Borgen works as an armed security officer at Jolly Jewelry that is located at 301 E. Lake St. It is in the International Bazaar, which houses several other businesses. Dan said that often when he starts his morning shift he finds people sleeping in the building staircase. He said he sees drug sales take place on or near the property as well.
Dan said there was an attempted robbery at the store about a month ago. He said the perpetrators appeared to be African American and one was armed with some kind of handgun. The other one did not show a weapon. He said they were driving a blue Metro Mobility-size bus with no license plates. Dan said that they left, without further incident, when they saw his gun, which Dan made a point of telling me, was bigger than theirs. They called 911 immediately after the incident occurred, but the police never showed up.
There was also a donation box, which Dan estimated may have contained $200 or $300 dollars, which was stolen recently. He said, in addition to this theft and the attempted robbery, that people often come in to sell items he suspects are stolen.
In addition to the problems he has observed in the building he works at, he has noticed public drinking and people who appear to be intoxicated, on what may be other substances as well, at the bus stop. He also notices what appear to be drug sales at the McDonalds across the street. He said there is usually an off-duty police officer there from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. He said there is one at the nearby Taco Bell also from about 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. as well. He said the area is frequented by prostitutes all day long on most days. He can tell by the way they are dressed, exposing much of their bodies, that they are likely prostitutes and not just ordinary people out shopping or something. He said the prostitutes are of all races and include what appear to be gay and transgender prostitutes as well as women.
He said they also noticed that a van belonging to someone in the next building had been broken into and people were sleeping in it. He said he considers the van, which is unlicensed, to be a nuisance and has asked that they move it.
On Thursday, May 11, I talked to Joyce Robinson, an assistant manager at the McDonald’s at East Lake Street and 3rd Avenue. She said she has been a manager there for about three years. She had a completely different story from the one told to me by Daniel Borgen. She said the police response is good there. In the one instance she can recall, where they had to call the police in response to a potentially violent incident, the police responded within five minutes. They took the time to go through the video footage from the security cameras and they apprehended the suspect within a couple of days. The suspect had allegedly broken a window at the East Lake McDonalds.  The ice cream machine had broken down so they were unable to provide the ice cream he had ordered. This apparently sent him into a rage, resulting in the window being broken. She said the incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m., on a Saturday, which is about the time the bars close in Minneapolis.
I mentioned to her the observations of the security guard across the street, regarding the brazen drug dealing and prostitution he said he had observed on and near the McDonalds where she is a manager, especially in the parking lot and sidewalk, but she did not seem to be concerned about it.
She said the police are there a lot. She said sometimes five officers will be sitting in the McDonald for an hour at a time. She feels they are watching out for the business, and she is happy to have them there.
Later, I saw an African-American man offering to wash people’s windshields and headlights in the hope of getting a donation. He appeared to be in his late 20s. He was fairly attractive in appearance and had short dreadlocks that seem to be in style for African men.  He wore his jeans in the low rider position. I started to cross the street to start walking east on Lake but then I decided I would talk to this guy. He told me he was homeless and he pointed to his sign. I then asked him where he stayed and he said he stayed under an overpass someplace east of where we were on Lake. I asked him if he wanted to be interviewed. He said he could not do it now because he was working to get money so he could eat. He then interrupted me indicating he had to approach the cars that were stopped at the red light. He said he could talk to me when the light was green. He was polite and well mannered. In the 10 minutes or so I watched him he probably tried to approach about 20 vehicles. Many of them waved him away but he did wash the windshields and headlights on some of the cars. I only noticed the driver of one car give him money though. That driver handed him one or more bills through the window. I couldn’t see how much it was but it did not appear to be a one dollar bill, and it may have been more than one bill. I asked him about how much he made an hour doing this but he couldn’t tell me. He said it varied widely. I asked him if he could make $10 an hour but he just said he didn’t know and didn’t give me any idea of how much he averaged. I gave him my contact information and told him to call me. I told him I would buy him lunch and get him some coffee. I also told him about a place at 25th and Franklin called “Soup for You.” I told him it is more like a restaurant than a soup kitchen. It is a place where you can pay what and if you want to. It is also very good and healthy food. I didn’t tell him, but it also has some interesting regulars there. Almost every time I go there I learn something new about history, or politics, or about science, or the arts.

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