Urban Enclave Crisis
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The Urban Enclave Crisis refers to a roughly 5-year period of time from 1982 to 1987 that was characterized by instability and periodic violence in a select group of large northern Belhavian cities due to the aftermath of tough Settas-era law-and-order legal regimes during the Alsvintermark Drug War. It is largely regarded as having ended in mid-1987 after the Belhavian Home Guard's multi-city July 1987 "pacification" operations led to the arrest of hundreds of criminals and violent protestors, bringing the crisis to a close.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s during the so-called "Watermelon era", a select group of large northern Belhavian cities - Dakos, Freeport City, Tel Nafesh, among others - had been part of an experimental program of limited urban zones where prostitution was decriminalized, and a de facto state existed where illegal drugs were used with most authorities turning a blind eye. While this political leniency ended by the late 1970s, many denizens of these urban areas continued to engage in these activities, and illegal drug use and paid sex rates were substantially higher than in other cities.
With the passage of the Counter-Narcotics Enforcement Act in October 1982 and vigorous enforcement by Imperial and local police forces, these urban areas erupted in violence, protests, and drug-related crime.
Within days of CNEA's passage in early October 1982 as Imperial and local law enforcement began to attack criminal and law-breaking efforts across the Empire, violence and high crime emerged in these cities. Many criminals, alerted to the fact that their actions were now punished severely under long and stiff minimum sentences and even the death penalty for certain very serious offenses, chose to openly combat DISE agents and local police, with rates of gunfights and war-like urban street-fighting erupting in late October 1982 and onward that had not been seen in Belhavia since the fighting surrounding the Fall of Galarian in May 1945.
Gunfights to the death, car bombings, sniper attacks on police from street buildings, and war-like conditions emerged independently in several cities, notably Dakos, Freeport City, and Tel Nafesh, and their suburbs. Later, many of these groups would loosely coordinate against government security forces.
Between late October 1982 and January 1983 alone, according to a 1984 DISE report, there had been nearly 40 gunfights to the death between law enforcement forces and criminal elements, with 43 criminals, 5 DISE agents, 1 Imperial Home Guardsman, and 3 local policemen killed or critically wounded, 15 protests that turned violence, $7.6 million shekels in property damage, and skyrocketing amounts of crime in all categories, but especially violent crime.
In February 1983, after several months of continual and periodic violence, the mayor in Dakos declared a state of emergency and called in the Home Guard, an action followed by the mayors of 6 similarly-afflicted cities. In Dakos alone, several neighborhoods in New City and the Delta Islands were characterized as near-wartime conditions, with armed protestors and criminal groups controlling, at times, up to 8% of the city's territory. Electricity, running water, and television service was cut or unavailable, and it took four weeks of block-by-block fighting for Home Guard and police forces, supported by the Imperial Air Force and Navy, to operationally re-assert control over lawless areas. Even under control by security forces, the urban areas at times behaved as if under occupation, with sniper attacks, car bombs, and firefights erupting between government forces and groups of dissidents and criminals.
Martial law was declared, and violence petered off as public and private services were restored. 457 persons were arrested in the aftermath, many of them criminal operatives from organizations such as the Rodarian Mafia and the ethnic Tulese Englar Cartel, as well as BDLF-associated pro-illegal drug political protestors. With similar operations across Belhavia culminating in largely success with the restoration of order in affected cities, by April and May 1983 the crisis dimmed and simmered as violence disappeared.
Disorder would not appear for the rest of the year, but Imperial security officials named the lawless areas in early 1983 as "Zones of Lawless Disorder" or "ZLDs", a term which would stick throughout the sporadic eruptions of the Crisis for the next few years.
In January 1984, after a nearly-7 month stay in violence with just sporadic protests and police-criminal violence, a new wave of urban violence begun. In December 1983, in order to show its toughness to "Middle Belhavia" voters, the Settas administration's Crown Prosecution Service had indicted 30 individuals for the death penalty for the murder of several police officers and possessing tons of illegal hard drugs. This news sparked a renewed fury among the Rodarian Mafia and several Tulese cartels. Criminal bosses loosely allied along with several protestor leaders who had been released from jail or were on bail awaiting trial from events in early 1983. On January 14th, two car bombs went off in Freeport City, destroying part of the city's police department and killing dozens in front of city hall. Protests and crime took off across the crisis-plagued cities, with escalating attacks.
Days later, President Julian Settas, running for re-election that year, gave a speech decrying the urban crisis "as a landmark challenge of our times." The Imperial government created an "Urban Anti-Crisis Task Force" (UACTF) made up of local municipal police forces, provincial Home Guard units, the DISE, with aid from the IBI and Imperial military, were assembled and launched a multi-day offensive locking down the cities with martial law and putting them under paramilitary control. Sporadic resistance emerged throughout February - April 1984, with the emergence of heavy weapons and military-grade explosives believed by the IBI to be smuggled in from Estovnia donated by OttPact states.
Under political attack by Liberal Democrats at home and ridiculed by the Communist World abroad, President Settas in May 1984 launched a multi-city offensive maintaining martial law in certain urban areas and arresting hundreds of criminals and violent antigovernment protestors in Operation Clean Slate, ultimately prosecuting over 866 persons under various Imperial laws, including the White Terror laws and Counter-Narcotics Enforcement Act. Several high-profile trials emerged by the fall of 1984 during the general-election campaign, which, along with general economic prosperity and a strong Cold War doctrine, enabled him to win a landslide re-election.
After the election in early November 1984, renewed violence broke out. The mayor of Tel Nafesh was assassinated on November 18th, and five police officers were injured in separate gunfight and sniper attacks.
In June 1985, in the wake of the 1985 Belhavian embassy in Arthurista bombing, the BDLF orchestrated "aftershock" attacks inside Belhavia itself. Three car bombs hit in Dakos, Provisa, and Netiyot, Arkania. There was a foiled attempt to attack an Imperial Army base in Ayton-Shelvay. A joint IBI-DISE-IHG task force conducted several raids and sting operations, capturing 6 BDLF operatives and killing a dozen more.
In a surprise turn, many families within the Belhavia-based ethnic Rodarian Mafia turned against any alliance with the BDLF, believed to have occurred in part because of quiet backchannels and pressure from Rodarion on behalf of the Belhavian government. This so-called "cordon sanitaire" among the "main" criminal groups in Belhavia spread, and the BDLF soon found itself running out of black market allies inside the Empire.
In late 1986, many protestor leaders finished serving 2-year terms from the events of late 1982 - early 1983 and were released from Imperial prisons. They returned to their communities, and many resumed illegal drug use and sexual acts, and sparked a mini-boom in the illegal drug trade after a year or so of record-low drug arrests. In September 1986, DISE alerted the public with a well-publicized report indicating drug use and related crime was on the rebound, correlating to the release on several hundred 1982-3 protestors and criminals.
In a reversal of earlier crisis events, anti-drug and pro-law-and-order Belhavians of the so-called Middle Belhavia sector of society organized protests and marches, and begun to loudly march through the former ZLDs where many of the released convicts returned and had begun their anti-drug agitation. Violence spun out of control as vigilante mobs from both sides clashed in Dakos, Freeport City, Tel Nafesh, and smaller cities.
Mayors and police chiefs in the affected urban areas immediately instituted a police curfew and deployed special-weapons police teams supported by armored Home Guard units, who combated the growing pro-drug mobs and protests, and gave aid and support to the anti-drug vigilantes in their skirmishes, which was harshly criticized by anti-War on Drug activists as illegal government favoritism of lawbreakers.
By December, the violence died down as many anti-drug protestors were arrested again for inciting public disorder, violence, and criminal acts, as well as a litany of narcotics use charges. President Settas hailed the anti-drug vigilantes as "the heroes of our generation here at home, fighting the agents of chaos and disorder, opposing the vicious criminal elements that prey upon our society, and the evil intoxicants that ruin lives and harm our citizens." He later pardoned several vigilante leaders who had been arrested.
The "last gasp" of the crisis emerged in summer 1987, when the execution of several high-profile Rodarian Mafia and Tulese Cartel bosses sparked anger and attitudes of revenge within the criminal world, and their associated communities. Ethnic Rodarians and Tulese living in the large northern coastal cities began to agitate, holding ever-growing rallies, marches, and protests. These were often opposed by pro-law-and-order and dominant majority ethnic Belhavian Jews.
Things remained tense but calm in late June 1987, until the accidental death of an ethnic Rodarian boy, Lucas Cristinof, by a police officer during a violent protest. Rioting emerged, with looters destroying parts of commercial downtown Dakos and destroying property elsewhere in the city. This spread to other cities, where criminal elements sparked similar displays.
On July 3rd, President Settas via presidential decree ordered the Home Guard to conduct a multi-city "pacification operation" to end the violence. Over 15,000 White Guards, supported by numerous armored local police and DISE agents, over three weeks restored order fully to the affected cities and conducted arrests ranging into the low thousands.
In a move later decried by legal scholars as "unconstitutional", the Imperial effort leaned on the IBI to identify the leaders and repeat "players" in the violence to seek more and longer sentences, taking them off the streets for years and bringing a final close to the 5-year crisis. Several Senators later brought suit in court, however, after a local Dakos-based Imperial district court ruled against the Imperial Government, an higher appeals court overturned the decision. The Imperial Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal, ending the issue as settled law.
Effects on Belhavia
The crisis cemented the dominance of law-and-order political themes in Belhavian politics, and was the last major incident of armed violence that arose against security forces within Belhavia proper.
The crisis led to the steep decline of organized criminal groups such as the Rodarian Mafia and ethnic Tulese cartels as centers of power in local northern urban politics, with their influence and power with urban politicians and ethnic voter bases becoming near-non-existent by 2000.
The urban economies of some of Belhavia's leading cities faced years of economic freefalls and corrective bounces during and in-between the crises. While Empirewide economic growth averaged 5.6% in the Settas years, during the same period, affected urban economies averaged a tepid 1.5%.
Dakos was classified by economists as being in a citywide recession in 1983 and 1984, and would only break weak 1-2% growth rates by the last year of the crisis, 1987, growing at 3.4%. In 1984 and 1985, the city faced dueling economic quarters of economic growth or decline depending on the level of violence.
The Global Monetary Fund estimated in 1988 that national Belhavian growth would have eclipsed 7% between 1983-87 if the crisis had not occurred. The arrest of several thousand mostly-urban denizens is credited with reducing total human capital stock in Belhavia by about 0.8%.
The urban crisis escalated the "emptying out" of the big cities that had been occurring since the late 1940s in the post-Galarian era, a meta-trend of suburbanization leading to more and more outer suburbs and exurban communities at the metropolitan cities' outer rings. Ethnic Belhavian Jews fled the cities in droves, leading to a much higher population of poorer families and Belhavians of recent foreign and immigrant descent making up a greater share of the urban populations.
In music, film, and television, the law-and-order, crime, and police-criminal themes formed a new subgenre of 'urban crime' that spawned dozens of TV shows, thousands of popular songs, and numerous movies since the late 1980s.