There is an element of ambiguity in the tales of brutal Outside drug dealers ruling Whitehorse streets.
The group of 60 young people who asked a drug dealer to leave the Capital Hotel two weeks ago are being vaunted as heroes, and with some justification.
And Danika McKenna, a 20-year-old woman who bravely stepped forward to oversee Saturday’s anti-drug rally at Rotary Peace Park, defines the word “activist.”
But stories of thugs beating people with Louisville Sluggers for innocently being in the wrong place at the wrong time, often don’t quite add up.
At last month’s Dustball Dance a man from British Columbia was knocked unconscious, a person’s teeth were bashed out, and a Whitehorse man had his face split like a log from his lip to his chin.
All three went to hospital.
Two men from BC have been charged for one assault, and eight investigators are on the case, say the RCMP.
The dance’s brutal violence appeared random, and the RCMP has pinned it on people allegedly involved in the drug trade.
However since that dance a litany of tales have been told — of group beatings with baseball bats, of intimidation, of people scared to live at their houses, of drug dealer surveillance.
And therein lies the moral quandary.
While many have rightly aimed their abhorrence at the source — drugs — others, under their breath, point out that the violence is being caused by a new group of drug dealers … from Outside.
Though it may be true that a gang of drug pushers with connections to highly organized elements in southern Canada is now on Whitehorse streets, we must realize that focusing on this Outside group as the one and only problem is, at best, xenophobic.
Drugs, the drug industry and our homegrown drug addicts are the problem.
Whoever these suppliers are, they depend on a local market.
The RCMP has been criticized lately for not doing enough about drug dealers.
On the surface, the formula for cleaning up the streets seems simple.
Identify known drug dealers and drug enforcers — and these Outside people stand out to locals like a dog musher stands out in downtown Toronto — and bring them to justice.
But are the victims of this group coming forward? And if not, why not?
The fear of reprisals for going to the RCMP has been presented as one possible answer.
Unfortunately, another may be that victims of attacks are more involved in Whitehorse’s drug problems than they are letting on.
Some say we may be witnessing a turf war between local and Outside drug dealers.
Though criticism has also been levied at our politicians for not doing enough, government should do what it does best — help people who cannot help themselves.
Those addicted to drugs should have access to resources help to them beat their demons.
Those who witness drug deals and violence must feel safe enough to come forward to police with information.
And the brave young people who are standing face to face with drug dealers in Whitehorse must be given resources to organize and continue their good work.
Kicking Outside dealers out will only create a demand that local dealers would gladly satisfy.
Instead, kicking our addictions must be our singular goal.
As Ed Schultz pointed out at Saturday’s rally, to beat the drug industry, “You’ve got to make it unprofitable.”
Take away our growing demand for hard drugs, and every cocaine, crack and crystal meth dealer will soon go out of business, regardless of where they’re from. (TQ)