“Whose War on Drugs? #BHeard Town Hall, Presented by BRIC to Focus on America’s Longest War

Press Release May 21, 2018

On May 23rd, BRIC will be hosting a large community event titled, Whose War On Drugs? A #BHeard Town Hall. The event is free and will be held at the BRIC House, 647 Fulton Street from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m..

The event will bring together stakeholders, thought leaders and Brooklyn’s communities to truly challenge the idea behind America’s longest-running war, asking: Who benefits from the drug war? How can we begin to reverse the collateral damage to our communities? And how do we bridge the gap between public health and the criminal justice system?

A live panel discussion will be led by:

At the event, the Drug Policy Alliance will showcase Safe Shape, a pop up exhibit that allows visitors to experience what a safer consumption space looks like. The exhibit is meant to demystify what the facilities are and the services available for people while educating communities about harm reduction and other health-based approaches to addressing problematic drug use. As visitors walk through the exhibit, they experience a clean table, mirror, good lighting, syringe disposal case, and sterile injecting equipment, as well as an informed attendant to answer questions about how the facilities work and how they offer wrap-around services like drug treatment referrals, information on how to access healthcare and insurance, and more.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made national news earlier this month when he announced his support for safer consumption spaces as a strategy to combat the overdose crisis. The Mayor’s plan calls for four sites to open after a 6-to-12-month period of outreach to the communities where they will be located. They would operate as pilot programs for a year.

Overdose Prevention Centers would likely be co-sited with existing programs that engage people who use drugs, such as syringe exchange programs. There are discussions about the centers being located in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx. Trained staff would be available to administer naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug, and referrals to treatment and counseling.

The Mayor’s support follows years of advocacy by community-based groups, people who are directly affected, faith leaders, medical professionals, treatment providers, housing service providers, and City Council members who have called for New York City to implement safer consumption spaces as a proven public health intervention to save lives.

Note to press: The Safe Shape exhibit will be in BRIC’s TV studio before and after the Town Hall. Media availability 5 to 6:30 p.m.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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