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McBride says that since February, "things have improved a lot" at the house, but he contends that this change of behavior is only a reluctant response to neighborhood pressure. "They know now when they do the loud stuff, they know we're going to react," he says. "They're only reacting to the neighborhood changing."
Dave Emge, a city housing code enforcement inspector, has made several visits to the home in the past year to check on the city's continual attempts to get the Walkers to upgrade such things as the home's floors and fixtures. "I've never had any problems with 'em," says Emge. "I'm happy if something gets fixed every visit."
Since January, according to police, there have been only eight calls summoning police to the house, and one of those was the execution of the search warrant. But as temperatures rose at the end of May, so did calls about heavy traffic and drug use.
Last month undercover cops visited the house three times, say police, and purchased crack from Walker and Young. Police say officers bought $20 worth of crack on the first two visits and $40 worth on the last visit, which secured a search warrant.
"If you've got an addict in the house, that's not probable cause to take the house," Kenneth Walker contends. He admits there's drug use in the house, but he denies selling narcotics to anyone. "Me and Alvin didn't sell no drugs out of there," Walker says. "They're going to lose on that."
Both Walkers say the raid went way beyond the pale: Police lobbed in a flash-bang grenade to disorient those inside and then kicked the door down. Both brothers recall a cop telling them, "You folks might as well pack up. The city owns this house."
Dondo says police threw clothes on the ground and emptied the family's containers of cologne, cereal, baby powder and grits. "They came in to destroy," says Kenneth Walker. He also claims that police took $200 in cash he was carrying, and it hasn't been returned.
Kenneth contends that he was kicked several times by SWAT officers, even when he was not in a position to harm them. "They're out to get the house," he says. "If they're doing their job, they don't have to beat people down like that." His arraignment is scheduled for August 24, and he's trying to scrape money together to post bond. Then, he says, "I'm gonna take 'em to court. I'm gonna beat it."
The brothers also say the cops cinched them up with straps pulled so tight their sides became numb.
But SWAT Sergeant Tony Iacobetta, who oversaw the raid, argues that this is the way it's done. "These guys don't come in and dance with you," he says of his troops. "They're gonna put you down and cuff you."
Iacobetta says he didn't see anyone get pushed around but does admit that, because of the high adrenaline in the SWAT team, "maybe some of the guys are a little rough getting them down."
To the Walkers, the raid was the clearest sign yet that the police have them targeted, aided by the efforts of well-connected neighbors like McBride, who runs the Mayor's Commission on Youth.
"Nobody wants to take anyone's home away," says Officer Bini. "I like to think all of us would like to see them become viable members of the neighborhood."
Dondo Walker believes that can best be accomplished by letting the family be. "If we're more a problem to ourselves than anyone else, who are they to complain?" Walker says. "Other than the fact they're trying to take the house, we don't bother no one."
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