At 1:15 PM there were at least 40 cars minimum around the place with people milling about. Generally, they shake the numbers at 12 noon, 3 and 6 pm but the times may vary from house to house. Given the fact that this very place was raided for the third time in 12 months just a few days ago I was amazed that it was up and running again so quickly. I was also amazed that this property essentially falls in the area of the Martindale Brightwood redevelopment area that one developer is sinking a lot of his own cash into. The next Fall Creek Place this area is not. Lord knows I wouldn't dump cash into an area where the numbers racket is running wide open.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Will Ballard Bring An End To Pea Shakes?
A recent post at IndyUndercover declared that Mayor-elect Greg Ballard plans to permanently close down the pea shake houses which are blighting troubled inner-city neighborhoods. This pea shake house shown above located at 1502 N. Columbia Avenue was reportedly raided by IMPD for the third time in the last year this past Friday. Like most of these pea shake raids, it reopened within days. As one concerned neighborhood described the scene to me today:
People knowledgeable with this particular pea shake operation say it has operated as an illegal numbers house for at least 50 years. Property records list the owner as Elaine McGill. She has been represented in the past by the controversial City-County Council Counsel and attorney to outgoing CCC President Monroe Gray, Aaron Haith, on permit matters before the Metropolitan Development Commission. Although a sign on the building advertises Ms. Phil's Cafe and another sign says Soul Food, it is unmistakeably a numbers-running establishment.
A source tells Advance Indiana that the establishment mostly hires convicted felons to run the place, a way of helping out otherwise unemployable persons. Last week's arrest reportedly nabbed seven persons, including four women and three men. The women were said to have been detained overnight, while the men were back on the streets within a couple of hours. The source says the real managers of the pea shake house are never on site when an arrest takes place. In the opinion of the source, Indianapolis mayors, police and prosecutors have protected the people behind this illegal gambling operation for decades. "This thing isn't a penny ante craps game going on behind a liquor store, it's serious money," the source says.
So it begs the question, who are the person(s) behind Indianapolis' illegal numbers syndicate? And why are Indianapolis' mayors, police and prosecutors protecting them? While such operations in many other larger cities have been all but eliminated, they operate openly and with impunity in the City of Indianapolis. One would think the introduction of casino gambling in the state of Indiana in the 1990s would have put added pressure to put these illegal gambling establishments out of business for no other reason than to eliminate needless competition. Rumors persist that recently-departed U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks' office sat on evidence gathered during a several-year investigation, which could have been put to good use to put this racket out of business for good. She sits as a member of Mayor-elect Greg Ballard's transition team. I wish she would come forward and clear the air on this issue. I will gladly post her response to these rumors for all to see. Her silence in the face of this criticism only fuels the suspicions held by many of us.
Mayor-elect Ballard owes the old guard which has been protecting the numbers syndicate all these years nothing. He can take a big step towards helping rebuild blighted neighborhoods by closing down the pea shake houses for good. They simply prey on the poor and breed crime wherever they exist. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi needs to get on board as well. This revolving door game his office is playing with police has got to stop.