Have you heard about Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s new hug-a-felon program, asks Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Tom Ferrick, Jr.?This week, the mayor stopped by a street party in North Philadelphia to praise one Edward “Joe-Joe” Terrell for his new hand-painted T-shirt business. Called a “former drug dealer” in the Street campaign’s news release, Terrell started the business out of his house on North Hutchinson Street in late April.
Terrell told Philadelphia Weekly that he was weary of selling drugs and the city’s Safe Streets initiative made it too hard for dealers to do business in this city. Joe-Joe said exactly the right thing. The Street campaign saw the article and jumped on it as a photo-op to tout the effectiveness of Safe Streets, the city’s costly program that targets police patrols to drug neighborhoods.
But police dispute Terrell’s claim that he was a drug dealer. They say “is” a drug dealer is more like it. Joe-Joe started his T-shirt business only after a April 22 raid on his Hutchinson Street home, where police confiscated, among other things, 300 packets of heroin, more than 50 vials of crack cocaine, and several dozen bags of marijuana. They also arrested and charged Terrell and another man as operators of the business. Police raided the home after an undercover narcotics officer visited and made a $40 buy of crack cocaine from Terrell’s alleged associate.