The grassroots effort organizing along Hamilton’s Parkamo Avenue continues to attract more support in the fight to rid the area, known as “Heroin Alley,” of drug activity.
Brandon Godsey is among those supporters — and he may seem like an unlikely person to join a 69-year-old Hamilton grandfather’s protest over drug activity in the neighborhood.
Godsey drove from Colerain Twp. to Hamilton when he heard that Dennis Matheny was sitting outside his Hamilton home with a sign reading “No Drugs Today.”
Matheny, 69, who lives at 1658 Parkamo Ave., told the Journal-News on Monday that the street where he lives, has become known in the city as “Heroin Alley.”
“I am tired of seeing what this stuff is doing to our cities and our country,” said Godsey, who added that he is a recovering drug addict.
“I was a user actually for about three years,” he told the Journal-News while he sat today with Matheny. “I’ve been clean since 2009 when I joined the military.”
The 38-year-old also said he was concerned for Matheny’s personal safety.
“I saw (Matheny) getting death threats online and I had a pit bull and a concealed carry (license) so I figured he could use some protection. …These drug dealers don’t mess around. Most of them got bigger guns than the police do,” Godsey said.
“It’s important to me because I see so many people dying from it,” he said.
Matheny’s peaceful protest, which started Monday, has gotten the attention of Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit.
“I think it is great,” Bucheit said Monday of Matheny’s efforts. “He cares about this neighborhood, and he and I and some neighbors got together and I think we have a good plan moving forward. We are going to sit down coming up later this week and we are going to clean this neighborhood up.”
Residents in the neighborhood and surrounding communities continued Tuesday to stop by the Parkamo Avenue protest site to sign a petition urging more police involvement in the area and to prepare for a meeting with Bucheit later this week.
Nina Porter, 36, of Middletown, said she supported the effort and would like to start something similar in her own community.
“It’s amazing what they are doing here on this street,” Porter said.
Hamilton police Officer Kristi Collins said a small sampling of police calls to Parkamo Avenue from May 1 through Aug. 1 show “we had five overdoses during that period.”
Jerry Ninke, 67, said he has been in the neighborhood, “all my life” and the stats don’t tell half the story.
“You come up here at 1 a.m. or 1:30 at night, these street are like the ‘Night of the Living Dead,’” he said. “Daytime (drug dealers) are even out and will look right in your car. It’s terrible, and the people who live here have to do something. It is really out of hand and the police have to see it. I know they lock up some of the drug dealers, but they get right out.”
Ninke is retired and said he often thinks about the days when Parkamo Avenue was not a haven for drug dealers.
“It is past being a problem, and the people who live here have to do something,” Ninke said. “It is time for us to do something. We don’t report it to police, but we have to do that. I have found syringes in my yard and out by my garage. I saw a 4-year-old kid running on the sidewalk with (a syringe) in his hand that he picked up and I had to get up and grab it from him before he stuck himself.”
Ninke said he plans to attend the neighborhood meeting with police this week and hopes the momentum created by Matheny will continue to grow.