Monday, May 16, 2016

State of Grace – Crack Whores

Monday May 16, 2016
Report by Grandma KoKo your scout in the homeless zone
Author of More to Come a story unfolding over time   first 4 chapters free pdf

I had expected to prepare a report about the many things that happen at Grace Marketplace/Dignity Village; both together are called The Empowerment Center, even though no one ever calls it that. It is NOT a homeless shelter, it is a one stop ‘shopping’ experience (hence the name Marketplace) supposedly dedicated to helping make it easier for the impoverished. It offers no shelter for the poor. There are less than a hundred indoor beds. In the men’s dorm are 60 beds. The men are packed in one big room on bunked beds. The women’s side has approximately 17 beds in a room the same size. Yet only people with a job and/or a monthly check coming in are allowed to sleep inside. Everyone else, the REAL impoverished homeless are outside in the cold of winter and the heat of summer. A majority of the unsheltered people are old, sick, mentally ill, developmentally disabled, handicapped and in wheelchairs. It is a convalescent home run like a jail. They sleep inside a tent if they are lucky, trudge long distances carrying heavy burdens including carrying water from the hose to their tent, no electricity and port-a-potties. At least there are two handicapped port-a-potties out by the tents. People survive best they can, despite the sorrowful lack of management or structure, while living outside with poisonous snakes and spiders in exceptionally meager accommodations.

Someone once explained how the situation of people sleeping in the pavilion creates a warm place snakes like to hang out in. Many people simple sleep outside somewhere-anywhere. Each night folks are packed in under the eves in front of the Administration building by the front gate, sleeping on the hard concrete sidewalk. About half of the buildings out there remain empty and unused. Another large open air pavilion remains locked while people are on a waiting list for the 60 beds crammed into the outdoor pavilion by the Welcome Center, there people sleep on plastic pallets called boats. I prefer to call (Grace/Dignity/Empowerment Marketplace/Village/Center) a helpless non-shelter. Homeless is NOT helpless, yet I am seeing how the set up at Grace Empowerment Center actually fosters helplessness among its ‘guests’.

It is my hope that by reporting on the many small things that are happening out at Grace, a.k.a. the Empowerment Center, it will help the good citizens of Gainesville to better understand the culture of poverty and together we can move in directions that will actually make a difference. We CAN do better. Impoverished people have an entirely unique culture that is often difficult for people still aligned with the EMPIRE of Consumerism to understand.

Like I said, I was planning to prepare a more illuminating and inspiring report full of some problems and offering solutions. That was before last week happened. A more full understanding of the drug use and human trafficking that is going on at the Empowerment Center was revealed to me. I came to better understand the ravishing effects of this hideous crime on the victims, the women of Grace. Is there anything worse to call a woman than a Crack Whore? We banter around the term Crack Whore sometimes in jest and often in anger. Yet I had never really thought through the mechanism that creates them.

Here is how the story unfolded for me. Tuesday evening the police officer and Steven Belk the manager of Dignity Village stopped by our section of this big tent city (estimated count, apx. 200 people in the tents) and informed us that a certain location of our section would soon become The Safety Zone. What’s going to make that little piece of ground SAFE I wondered, but no one could answer. We’ll talk about The Safety Zone another time. We have bigger fish to fry.

Mr. Belk left but the officer stayed to talk a while longer. We got onto the subject of the resident drug dealers/pimps. These are the hard drug dealers, not the ones who sell marijuana. I learned that selling crack and selling sex go together, are both part of the same bad news. Everybody knows who the dealers are, and that the guy nick named Snake is the head purveyor of vice at Dignity Village. Despite knowing who they are and what they are doing, the officer said they needed more information before they could take action. They are looking for an informant.

The next day, Wednesday morning I talked with someone who knows Snake better than I do. It was explained in detail how he uses roofies, a date rape drug also called a predator drug because it incapacitates the victim. He has his way with the victim; rumor has it he takes them out to the woods.  They wake, ‘come to’ remembering nothing.

What Snake does is solicit donations from local churches of all kinds of things. He hoards them in his tent complex and he does share them, when he feels like it, to people who are his friends or prey. He’s got aspirin, and other kinds of first aid supplies, all sorts of things people living in tents would want to use, most importantly he has tents and tarps. This makes Snake the lead person that people are sent to, especially new comers. “Need a tent? Go see Snake.”

Given the situation that Grace offers practically nothing in the way of even basic toiletries, no towels at the shower, no aspirin or Band-Aids, and absolutely nothing that would be handy to people living in tents. Grace says they offer laundry detergent but are often times out of it. So the predator Snake has no trouble luring victims into his trap.

Given the situation that there is no obvious method to assign people to camp sites, it means the new people are likely to arrive in Snakes domain. To anyone who didn’t know better it would appear that Snake is the one who runs things. He is a trusted helper of Dignity Village. I’ve heard he is a member on the board that decides about disputes regarding punitive action. Steve Belk, the city manager of Dignity Village seems quite chummy with Snake. If Mr. Belk doesn’t know what Snake is up to he would really have to have his head in the sand.

A couple of weeks ago, while having a brief informal conversation with Jon DeCarmine, the seemingly sole manager at Grace Marketplace, I casually, jokingly mentioned the fact that we all know who the drug dealers are. Jon didn’t reply with any verbal response. I got a sideways glance from him and silence before the conversation moved on. This happened before I realized how grave are the circumstances there. It would appear to me that Jon DeCarmine is giving silent consent.

So, I ask you, what should someone do with information like this? I really hadn’t thought a lot about human trafficking and all its nasty connotations before this came up, thanks to the GPD officer. As it turns out I was already planning on attending the Empowerment Center Oversight Committee regularly scheduled meeting that Wednesday afternoon. This Oversight Committee is composed of two city commissioners, two county commissioners and a retired college professor. At public comment time I spoke about discovering the modus operandi of the main pimp/drug dealer. I assumed they would become very interested and want to know more. WRONG! No one from the Oversight Committee or anyone in the audience listening wanted to engage me further in any way. Both Jon DeCarmine and Theresa Lowe were in the room when I spoke. No interest? What does that tell us? Complicity of Silence. They already know all about it, and just don’t want to talk or think about it. (Or just don’t care, or weren’t listening to me talk or didn’t understand what I was saying?)

The next morning I sent email with a brief description of how Snake operates to one city commissioner and to another person higher up in the command chain and from somewhere other than Gainesville. I also provided the same information to various people world wide via Social Media. I contacted the police. The police said they would have the person in charge of investigating this type of crime contact me. That didn’t happen, no follow up from the GPD.

What conclusions can be drawn from this scenario? The ones I can think up do not paint a pretty picture of Gainesville or Florida. My picture includes ugly words like corruption and complicit or even accessory to: illegal activities. I did a little Google search of ‘human trafficking Gainesville Florida’ and found a lot of information, including the following statistics available on the Alachua County Sheriff web site.

  • Did you know Florida has the highest number of Human Trafficking victims in the United States?

  • Did you know Florida is one of the top 3 states as a destination state for Human Trafficking in the United States?

The next day I attended the Thursday women’s group. Good thing, because I needed to talk about it. Learning all this awful stuff was no fun. Trying to think about the right people to share it with, all the while knowing I was sticking my head out and likely to not make Snake happy. I was feeling let down by the officials that I had expected to at least be a little interested, maybe even offer support or protection.  My internet friends were interested.

At that Woman’s meeting the other women shared what they knew about the plight of Crack Whores here in Gainesville and some history. Right off the bat we agreed that if they arrest Snake, so what, another will come to take his place. They talked about Tiger, the nick-name of Snakes predecessor. Tiger would kidnap/sequester his prey, his women somewhere back in the woods. It seems if any woman tried to escape he would break her leg and rape her while the broken leg is flapping. The person explaining wondered how the hospital ER could not notice a string of girls coming in all with the same kind of odd broken leg injuries. She indicated this atrocity was perpetrated often enough, girls getting their leg broken. Anyway, no one seemed to notice or connect the dots.

Another more recent event will illustrate how blatantly Snake operates. He has no fear at all of getting caught. Out in the common area of C with other clients around Snake addresses his Crack Whore. Hey bitch, where dat $30? She doesn’t have it and questions that she even owes it. He insists that she borrowed $20 at some previous date and should have paid it back by now, she got her check, right? And that $10 is from some guy who supposedly paid to eat her pussy, but since she hadn’t done that she owed him and he would forgive her the debt because he would eat her pussy. God it is so hard for me to even type these words. This cocky predator doesn’t care who’s listening because why should he.

What is to be done about this? Obviously, no one seems able to stop the criminal predator, so I don’t waste time on things I can’t change. What I can change is to get relief to the many victims of this unspeakable crime.  It makes me angry that the name of it, Human Trafficking, a sanctified kind of name that implies something humane, something in motion. It’s almost a pleasant sounding combination of positive words that most people may not ever think about or even know what that means.

George Carlin Shell Shock

Crack Whore is a more honest and descriptive term and readily describes a situation. I am now dedicated to getting as much relief, as fast as possible to these victims, women I know personally out at Grace/Dignity/Empowerment Center. I am calling now for the best people in this community who can provide what is needed here and now. We will need to provide victim restitution. I imagine the specific needs of the sufferers of this criminal activity are very much different than the standard treatment for drug abuse and crazy. This will need to be done by the private sector, probably the faith based community. If we expect the city or county to get anything done, it will not be in a timely fashion and probably not be effective.

Ok, enough for now. I’m tired of writing and thinking about this topic. The fact that I am writing and submitting this is putting myself personally in harms way. I am absolutely convinced that the bad guys will know about this report just as fast as the supposed good guys I am about to email it to. Never the less, it’s time for lots of people to stand up for these victims known as Crack Whores.

I am Grandma KoKo, your scout in the homeless zone and this is my report.
May 16, 2016

Human Trafficking: Your Child Might Be a Target

Elisabeth Meinecke | Jul 20, 2013

Human trafficking ring busted in New Port Richey   May 11, 2016
New Port Richey is a city in Pasco County, Florida, United States. It is a suburban city included in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida

Modern-day slavery: human trafficking
Mary-Lou Watkinson, Alligator Contributing Writer  Jan 11, 2016

FEDS: 6 remanded after human trafficking sting   July 17, 2015  WCJB Channel 20 news

  • Did you know Florida has the highest number of Human Trafficking victims in the United States?
  • Did you know Florida is one of the top 3 states as a destination state for Human Trafficking in the United States?


  1. Thanks for the e-mail link. Catching up reading EVERYTHING you put together. Love Penny Kelly link. Limited computer time here in Costa Rica so I watch and read a bit when I'm in signal range.

  2. Oct HEALTHY wishes for your move to Suwanee River sacred ground camp. I'd really like to visit there if it works out good for you. Spiritual & peaceful. True "Grace"