Kensington block celebrates life after drug dealers pushed out

 Residents of this Kensington block are celebrating a bust that took drug dealers away. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Residents of this Kensington block are celebrating a bust that took drug dealers away. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Residents of one section of Philly’s Kensington neighborhood are celebrating. Community leaders say the sidewalks feel different because a recent raid broke up a drug dealing operation.

Just a few days ago, Jamie Moffett said his neighbors on this block of East Westmoreland Street were literally dancing in the street. Moffett, leader of the Kensington Renewal neighborhood group, has pushed for more street trees and a new park. But he said the block still was, “probably the best place to get crack and heroin in our neighborhood by far and one of the best in a city of a million a half people.”

That changed a few days ago, Moffett said, after a big drug bust around the corner on Argyle Street. “It had been a multi-year stakeout and there were four houses and five garages were raided. Then on Thursday morning, two things were happening. Neighbors were walking around confused and excited, but potential drug buyers were walking around confused and frustrated. So you could kind of see two different sorts of people,” Moffett said.

Ramon Colon lives on the block of East Westmoreland Street. “The bust — they took everybody in. So you don’t see nobody walking up and down no more.” He said that’s a good thing, especially for his sons. But now Colon has another problem. He said the drug activity has shifted to the area around his business a few blocks away.

Moffett said parents, at least for now, feel more comfortable letting their kids play outside. “I feel like it’s kind of a quiet optimism now where we still need jobs here, it’s still really tough though.”

Across the street a man let out a shrill whistle. Moffett said unfortunately, that means he’s asking if we want to buy drugs.

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