A talk with “Buster Edwards”
By Chris Busby
“Buster Edwards” is the pseudonym local TV news anchor Jeff Peterson bestowed upon a 45-year-old anti-crack activist living in Portland. Edwards started the Web site crackhouse.tv about a month ago. Its professed mission: “to eradicate every crack house in the United States!”
Visitors to the site are urged to upload video and photos of suspected crack houses, and to pass along tips, which in turn are passed on to law enforcement agencies in Portland and other cities. In addition to crackhouse.tv, Edwards posts video of suspected or confirmed crack houses on youtube.com and other video-sharing sites.
The Bollard granted him anonymity due to the nature of his activism.
The Bollard: How many videos and tips have you received?
Buster Edwards: Videos, we’ve received one. Tips, we have probably exceeded 250. So people are seeing the site, but they’re not willing to post their stuff on it, per se… I think the privacy issue is the major reason people aren’t willing to tape it themselves and upload it themselves. [That is, concern for their own privacy.]
But it’s working, I feel it’s working… I can give you statistics in terms of visitors: I think it’s around 12,000. The views of the videos, there’s been like 3,000 for one of them.
Has Portland’s crack problem gotten worse?
Oh, much worse. There was a 67-percent increase [in crack-related crime] over the course of a year, 2006 to 2007. It just got to a point where I started to notice it. That means it’s pretty pervasive. I said, ‘That’s’ enough of that shit.’
I saw it affect a friend of mine’s life in a way that was very effective. I walked into her house to give her a bag of weed and her daughter says to me, ‘I had a black man touch me in my privates and I didn’t like it.’
It just set me off.
As a pot dealer, how do you justify busting other drug dealers?
There’s drugs that are innocent and don’t hurt people, which I think marijuana is. It’s pretty laid back. You don’t do scary stuff, you don’t affect people’s lives. But crack is a bad, bad, bad thing. It’s tearing families apart, literally… It’s causing people to go out and rob banks, convenience stores, the whole fuckin’ nine yards.
Are you concerned a house not involved in the crack trade will be the subject of a video?
No. I think people pretty much know what’s going on. There are some tips on the home page that spell out what a crack house is and what to look for… When people are home and the curtains are drawn, that’s just one scenario.
What’s been the reaction of the police?
Instead of me going out and contacting every police department there is, I think the media angle is the best [approach].
How’s the media coverage been so far?
Not bad. I’ve talked to several TV programs, Maury, Montel, and Oprah. Got calls back from – I think it was Maury.
You’ve recently battled back a life-threatening illness. Has that inspired you to do good works?
Yeah, to kinda pay it forward. People helped me out with my illness. In a way, I’m trying to do the right thing and pay it back.
But I kept thinking when I got back to my house: save the little girl, save the little girl, gotta save the little girl. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I woke up the next morning and here we go.
Has that situation improved?
Yes, dramatically. One of my decisions getting up that morning was calling child protective services. It was tough.