This is Philadelphia where we have had the most overdoses in the whole country.
We’ve averaged about 1,000 overdose deaths over the last 4 years. Many advocates have proposed Safe consumption sites as a solution to this issue. They are places for people to use illicit drugs safely and to get connected to resources. Safe consumption sites are not only about the stopping overdoses, they are about creating a liberatory space in the surveillance state.
You can read more about them here: https://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/supervised-consumption-services
We need spaces where people can be free. Right now, to be unhoused is to experience interactions with the police on a few different levels. In Philadelphia, the police make morning counts of most unhoused people. Outreach workers come around and speak to each person and offer a shelter space. Shelters can be dangerous and you may have to leave your partner, pets and possessions behind. To enter, people feel like they are in prison again which can feel triggering. These conditions lead to many unhoused people having no interest in the shelter system, its poor hygiene or its oppressive rules.
There is no such thing as being Service-Resistant.
The James Talib-Dean Camp is a No Cop Zone because it was necessary to work with people and make a place where they could rest. Without cops and outreach workers, individuals could get a good night’s rest. They could relax knowing that they would not have to leave early from a place before the police came. Or try to avoid outreach as they attempted to coerce them into a shelter. If you don’t follow outreach’s directions, you are labeled as service-resistant. People know what they need, there is no thing as a person being service-resistant.
We need to understand supervised consumption as the beginning of creating no police zones. There need to be no police zones in schools and universities, in hospitals, in any health clinic, in any public housing, on our transit systems, and finally in drug consumption rooms specifically made for people who use drugs and those interested in resources, like housing and healthcare. They will be spaces of care and dignity rather than force and coercion. We start by establishing and then expanding these no police zones. We need to disempower and disband the police and the entire surveillance state.
Spaces of CARE and DIGNITY do not include the presence of police.