A community activist in Southwest Philadelphia says her neighborhood is living under a cloud of fear as crime surrounding the drug trade persists despite multiple arrests.
A single individual, 33-year-old Terrence Miclke, has become the focal point of distress. Philadelphia police have arrested him five times this year on drug charges but he has returned to the corner each time within 48 hours.
“There are a lot of residents out here that are fearing for their safety,” the community organizer said, asking to remain anonymous because of the ongoing criminal situation in the neighborhood.
“We don’t come out past night. We are constantly, constantly checking [with each other], saying, ‘ Oh, Hey, did you see this? Don’t go in this area, please avoid this area.’ So there’s a lot of the residents around here you don’t see because of the behaviors and activities of this individual. They’re fearful.”
Court documents show that three of Miclke’s arrests came in a twelve-day period this month. He was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute, on:
- Jan. 6, for crack cocaine
- June 5, for marijuana
- Aug. 10, for crack cocaine
- Aug. 19, for marijuana
- Aug. 21, for marijuana
In each case, Miclke received unsecured bails or was released on his own recognizance, meaning prosecutors have essentially allowed him to walk out of jail.
The data for “case outcomes” on the Philadelphia district attorney’s website shows a stark decrease in the prosecution of drug cases such as Miclke’s under Larry Krasner. Krasner took office in 2018, and will likely be re-elected this November having already won the Democratic primary in May.
READ MORE — Wit or witout gunfire.
In 2017, the year before Krasner took office, the city tallied about 9,100 drug cases, and about 2,100 of those were dismissed or withdrawn.
In 2021, the city so far has 3,400 drug cases, but the number of cases dismissed or withdrawn has exceeded 2,500–more than the total for the entirety of 2017.
Krasner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The dates and locations of Miclke’s arrests align with a series of complaints on Twitter from Philadelphia Police 12th District Commanding Officer Scott Drissel, although Broad + Liberty was not able to confirm that Drissel was referring to Miclke specifically.
“As you know, we have been deployed around 57/Elmwood bc of the triple shooting last week,” Officer Drissel tweeted on Monday. “Guess who showed up 2 sell drugs again on Sat. (the day after getting let out from his last arrest at the same corner!!) He was charged by DAO & given UNSECURE bail AGAIN and is out already!”
“There is a connection between drug SALES and violence and these courageous officers will continue to be proactive to stop the violence!” Drissel concluded.
The intersection of 57th and Elmwood was the scene of a triple shooting on Aug. 17, which killed 51-year old Harold Haughton, and injured a 38-year-old man. Initial reports indicate a third person was also shot, but that person’s age and injury were not specified. Police are still searching for a suspect.
Although city officials have increased focus on skyrocketing homicide and gun violence cases, some argue Miclke’s case highlights that other categories of crime should also be a citywide concern.
The community activist in Southwest Philly said she intuitively feels a connection exists between drug crimes and the homicide rate.
“I would like to pose this to the mayor: If you could wear my shoes and walk in my shoes just for one day, then you would definitely, definitely understand and know an emergency is what the city is in need of,” she said. She also said seeing the alleged dealer again and again has created a sense of hopelessness.
‘If you could wear my shoes and walk in my shoes just for one day, then you would definitely, definitely understand and know an emergency is what the city is in need of.’
Mayor Kenney had considered declaring a state of emergency over the rising homicide rate earlier this month but decided against it.
As of Tuesday, Philadelphia’s homicide count stood at 293 for the year, a 19 percent increase over 2020. If the rate of homicides continues, more than 500 people will be killed in the city this year, a tally it has never seen before.
“I remember years ago when my mom passed away in 2010 and I came back here [to this neighborhood]. I used to come out at 11 o’clock at night and walk my dog,” the advocate said. “We would come out and get some night air and walk. I mean, crime is crime, but not like it is at this moment. I used to come out 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night and we would walk. I don’t do it now.”
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use his encrypted email at email@example.com.