Erik McGregor Photography

Erik McGregor is a New York City based artist, photographer and activist.

Activists Committing Act of Civil Disobedience Inside City Hall to Voice their Anger on the Mayor’s Silence on the Intervention to Prevent Overdose Deaths

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City Hall, NY – Following a press conference about safe consumption spaces (also known as supervised injection facilities) on April 5, 2018; at the steps of City Hall, activists walked inside City Hall and proceeded to block the entrance hall to the Mayor’s offices. Carrying an “End Overdose NY” banner, activists locked arms chanting “Not One More” 

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Just before the activist started the civil disobedience, a large crowd of housing service providers, medical professionals, treatment providers, and City Council Members joined harm reduction activists at the steps of City Hall to demand the Mayor takes a position on the lifesaving intervention of SCS beyond that they are “complex.” Speakers illustrated the many facets of the overdose crisis and the urgent need to implement SCS throughout New York City. Advocates and Council Members demanded that the Mayor follow through on his promise to “use every tool” to address the overdose crisis and support SCS. 

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“We are engaging in direct action today to call Mayor de Blasio out on what appears to be political cowardice,” said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works. “He says he will do whatever it takes to end overdose deaths, but his inaction on the Safer Injecting Facilities study makes his words a lie.”

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“As a person with a history of addiction, I view establishing safe consumption spaces as the next step in confronting the opioid epidemic and drug addiction in general. Complementing treatment with this unique and compassionate approach will not only help people use drugs safely, but would also offer them the opportunity to address their health and guide them toward healthier choices—including the possibility of recovery,” said Cecilia Gentili, Assistant Policy Director, GMHC.  “At GMHC, we observe every day at our substance use clinic how compassion and understanding work better than punitive approaches.”

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“In a moment when New York State’s overdose crisis continues to grow–with overdose deaths killing more New Yorkers than traffic accidents, homicides, and suicide combined–we need bold thinking and action,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “If we want to save lives, reduce criminalization, and end racial disparities, we need comprehensive, innovative, and forward-thinking approaches like safer consumption spaces. New York is in a unique position to step up and implement innovative drug policies rooted in science, compassion, and public health as we did with syringe exchanges before. It is the time for New York’s elected officials to lead the way in implementing drug policies that can succeed.”

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“For too long, we have watched our fellow New Yorkers die of overdose while the Mayor and First Lady bat around words like ‘complicated,’ ‘complex,’ and ‘soon,'” said Asia Betancourt, Leader at VOCAL-NY. “Safer Consumption Spaces have been proven to save lives and connect people to care, and in the over 30 years that they’ve existed, no one has ever died of an opioid overdose in one. The Mayor needs to stop stalling and come out in support of SCS now before more lives are lost.” 

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Over the past two months the Mayor has repeatedly gone on the record stating that his delay in releasing the SCS feasibility study is due to the “complexity” of the issue, though the basis of these statements regarding the SCS model is unclear. In his public statements, the Mayor has referenced different factors, including legal concerns, that these facilities are not a ‘panacea’ to the overdose crisis, and the administration’s focus on connecting people to treatment. Most recently, First Lady Chirlane McCray stated that City Hall is seeking more information because the SCS issue is so complicated.

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What is deeply troubling is that the Mayor and First Lady have failed to mention even once the substantial body of evidence that the SCS model has been demonstrated to save lives. The Mayor has said he is going to release the study in April. However, with our concerns and in the midst of an overdose crisis–we are demanding that the Mayor comes out to publicly support SCS and not deny that SCS save lives. Too many people have died, and we are saying not one more.

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#Activism #blockade #CityHall #CivilDisobedience #DirectAction #displacement #disruption #DrugAddiction #DrugPolicy #EndOverdoseNY #GMHC #HousingWorks #humanrights #MayorDeBlasio #NewYorkCity #NYC #OurCity #PeacefulProtest #PeacefulResistance #rally #SaferConsumptionSpaces #VocalNY #YesToSCS

© Erik McGregor – erikrivas@hotmail.com – 917-225-8963

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