Metro

NYC residents protest legal ‘shooting gallery’ injection site

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Two hundred people rallied in Harlem Saturday to protest the city’s new supervised injection site for drug addicts and the over saturation of treatment facilities in the neighborhood.

The protesters gathered at 125th Street and Park Avenue near the 126th Street injection site, which is one of two that opened at the end of November. Addicts are allowed to use whatever illegal drug they choose inside the sites, which the city says are safe havens.

They carried signs that read “Stop Dumping Drug Clients in Harlem” and “Our Children Deserve Better.” The legal shooting gallery is across the street from a daycare center and rally organizers said the area is also home to a large methadone clinic.

“The community did not consent to this,” said Takeshi Noda, 52 a father of three. “We would not have had it near a day care center if we had the opportunity to express our concern. This is unacceptable.”

A rally in Harlem to protest the city's new supervised injection site for drug addicts on December 11, 2021.
A rally in Harlem to protest the city’s new supervised injection site for drug addicts on December 11, 2021.
G.N.Miller/NYPost
A person holding a sign calling for drug injection sites to not be located near schools.
A person holds a sign calling for drug injection sites to not be located near schools.
G.N.Miller/NYPost

The site had previously served as a needle exchange.

Xavier Santiago, who is slated to be chairman of Community Board 11 in January, said the community was “very emphatic and caring.”

“Many of us have family members who suffer from substance abuse, mine included, and it’s not coming from a place of a lack of empathy but more understanding and getting the data and talking about equitable distribution,” Sanitago said.

One protester claimed that the community "did not consent" to the location of the new injection site.
One protester claimed that the community “did not consent” to the location of the new injection site.
G.N.Miller/NYPost

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who represents the area, said drug programs needed to be fairly spread out across the city.

“We’re not saying that we don’t want to carry our load,” he said. “We’re not saying that we will carry less. But we should not be pushed to carry more.”

Mona Odero, 50, a lifelong Harlem resident, said she was rallying for the safety and survival of the community.

A woman with holding a sign at the protest in Harlem.
A woman holds a sign at the protest in Harlem.
G.N.Miller/NYPost
Rep. Adriano Espaillat attending the rally where he claimed that drug injections sites in the city should be spread out.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat attends the rally, where he argued that drug injections sites in the city should be spread out to different areas.
G.N.Miller/NYPost

“There should be a plan. If you need these clinics, which we believe that we do, it should be planned,” she said. “It should not just be dumped here in Harlem. What they are doing is a dumping.”

A City Hall spokesman said the injection sites have prevented more than two dozen overdoses since opening.

“We respect all the voices who share concerns about their community, and we’ll continue to engage with both neighborhoods in good faith as the centers continue their work,” said spokesman Mitch Schwartz.

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