Bill de Blasio Opens ‘Legal Shooting Galleries’ for Drug Users
The nonprofit-run centers opened Tuesday
Outgoing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched the very first legal "shooting galleries" in the United States, branding them as "safe havens for addicts."
De Blasio's remarks came not long before five people overdosed in one of the clinics on opening day.
“Overdose Prevention Centers are a safe and effective way to address the opioid crisis. I’m proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible,” de Blasio said in a statement.
The nonprofit-run centers opened Tuesday.
There was a total of five overdoses at the East Harlem site, which saw 85 users inject drugs that were laced with the deadly drug fentanyl.
“We have had some overdoses today,” Kailin See, senior director of programs at New York Harm Reduction Educators, told The New York Post.
“They survived,” she said.
Reporters were barred from visiting the site or speaking to staff.
“I think what they’re doing is they’re promoting this, which is awful,” said the business owner, who declined to be named.
The health department chose the two Manhattan locations based on “health need and depth of program experience."
The sites provide clean needles and social services.
As The New York Post reported:
Last year, over 2,000 New Yorkers died of drug overdoses, the highest since the city started tracking the figures in 2000.
The most common drug involved in the fatalities is opioids. Between January and March this year, another 596 people lost their lives due to addiction. A city Health Department study found that the sites could save up to 130 people a year.
The mayor tried to push the controversial proposal to open a total of four sites before but was blocked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump, who both opposed the plan.
City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli was not convinced about the program’s effectiveness.
“British Columbia has led North America in safe injection sites, all while crossing overdose death milestones every month. How anyone can see this as a solution to a serious problem is beyond me, never mind the concerns of the neighbors,” Borelli told The Post Tuesday.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) called on the Department of Justice to block the sites, saying that they said sites would violate the federal Controlled Substances Act under former President Donald Trump.
Malliotakis wrote US Attorney General Merrick Garland telling him to “take swift action to enforce federal law.”
“Instead of focusing on the root cause of the drug epidemic, Mayor de Blasio is enabling drug cartels that continue to break our laws, smuggle illegal drugs over our border, and prey on our children,” Malliotakis said.
“Crime and fentanyl use are at record highs because of open borders, botched bail reform, and anti-police policies that keep releasing criminal drug dealers back onto our streets.
"Opening taxpayer-funded heroin shooting galleries is not a proper solution,” she said.
"These centers not only encourage drug use, but they will further deteriorate our quality of life."