Metro

Rev. Al Sharpton protests Mayor de Blasio’s injection sites

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Mayor de Blasio’s sometime political partner, the Rev. Al Sharpton, is protesting his legalized drug injection site in Harlem, charging that city officials are treating the predominantly black neighborhood as a dumping ground for addicted, homeless and mentally ill New Yorkers.

“We are compassionate and want to help all the vulnerable population in New York City, however, we cannot be complacent regarding the decades-long process of systemic racism that has oversaturated our community,” event organizers, including Sharpton’s National Action Network, said in an email about the Dec. 11. protest.

Last week, de Blasio heralded the opening of the New York Harm Reduction Educators on E. 126th Street and another public drug den in Washington Heights as a “safe effective way to address the opioid crisis.” Staff at the sites are trained to reverse overdoses and provide drug addiction services to users. .

Rev. Al Sharpton
Rev. Al Sharpton is protesting a new supervised injection site in Harlem. Protestors fear that the site, which is located near a daycare, will draw 6,000 drug addicts a year.
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But the protesters say the Harlem site — which, as The Post reported, is near a daycare — will draw 6,000 drug addicts a year to a neighborhood that is overburdened with social service providers.

Saturday’s protest will circle two blocks around the clinic that also includes the city’s largest methadone treatment center, the M35 bus stop that drops off residents of the homeless shelters on Wards Island and Boulevard — a homeless shelter for men with mental illness.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio heralded the opening of the site as “safe and effective.”
Paul Martinka

“The siting of the nation’s first formal opioid injection site without any community consultation is another in-your-face demonstration of how New York City continues to ignore the opinions of Harlem and locate programs on our streets for the benefit of wealthier and often whiter neighborhoods,” the organizers complain.

The two Manhattan locations are the first of their kind in the country as federal drug laws make their legality unclear. The city approved the sites without getting state permission.

Supervised injection center
The supervised injection sites are the first in the nation, Harlem organizers complain they were opened without local input. A spokesman for Mayor de Blasio said they’ve already reversed 17 overdoses.
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Sharpton and de Blasio are often closely aligned on political issues. On Thanksgiving, the mayor joined other elected officials to serve holiday meals at the reverend’s National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rev. Al Sharpton
Rev. Al Sharpton and Mayor Bill de Blasio are frequent political allies but find themselves at odds on this issue.
Getty Images

Mayoral spokesman Mitch Schwartz responded to the criticism.

“These two sites have already reversed 17 overdoses. Those people are our fellow New Yorkers – and without Overdose Prevention Centers, we could have lost them forever. 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,” Schwartz said.

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