Blast from the past: Drug sale

In 1988, The Record did a special project that covered a day-in-the-life of illegal drugs in Stockton. Just a few blocks south of the office is the Gleason Park area, back then it was a notorious haven for drugs and crime. I had the assignment of trying to get a shot of a drug deal in the making. Since no one was going to let me just walk up and take a picture of them, I decided to try shooting from a nearby residence. I thought it was a bit of a long shot because I guessed that the people living there would either be too scared to let me in, or worse, be involved in selling drugs themselves.

I walked up to a home with roses growing along its fence and knocked on the door. A woman answered and I told her what I was doing. She welcomed me wholeheartedly. She operated a board and care facility for the disabled out of her home and was angry and frustrated at the amount of crime on the street. Graffiti was rampant and drug deals occurred openly. She said that she had notified the authorities several times but to no avail. She let me shoot from a second story window and in no time a deal happened. From my vantage point I could see the exchange of money for drugs.

After years of neglect, the city is trying to clean up the area. There’s still a long way to go, but there’s potential for a turnaround. A new school has been built and the park refurbished. To rid the area of blight, three square blocks have been leveled, including the house from which I shot. For one homeowner, though, the effort has come too late.

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