Philly court battles over safe injection site

A needle on the street
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A U.S. attorney was in court Thursday in an attempt to block the nation’s first safe injection site from opening in Philadelphia.

A federal judge on Thursday was set to hear from U.S. Attorney William McSwain, who has filed a motion to stop the injection site from opening in the opioid-plagued Kensington neighborhood. The Trump-appointed attorney argues that the facility would worsen the city’s drug problem, and says it violates federal drug laws. 

But prominent Philadelphians, including Mayor Jim Kenney, are in support of the safe injection site, and on Thursday, a large protest erupted outside the courthouse. District Attorney Larry Krasney and Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley were present, along with advocates. A makeshift monument sat outside the courthouse memorializing the 1,116 Philadelphians who died from overdoses in 2018.

“I’m so proud to serve a city that SHOWS UP for our most vulnerable neighbors,” Krasner said on Twitter Thursday. “A truly just & humane criminal justice system treats everyone as if they’re somebody’s child — because they are. Mourn the beloved dead. Fight like hell for the living.”

He continued, “We are here to remind Donald Trump’s DOJ that just as locally elected leaders have discretion on what laws to enforce & what constitutes a crime, so do they. Incarcerating people in crisis is a choice. Condemning the sick to die is a choice.”

Founders of Safehouse say they can help reduce overdose death by having medical survivors oversee drug use. On-site, drug treatment will be provided.

According to NBC, a safe injection site will allow drug users to use illegal drugs like heroin in a safe environment. Needles, alcohol swabs, and other drug-related items used to inject the drugs are provided for free. They will also have life-saving equipment. 

Approximately 800 lives have been saved since Toronto opened up their first site in August 2017, according to reports. . In July, Kenney and other leaders toured that facility.

McSwain, who was appointed by President Trump, is not the only official against the proposed injection site. It was reported by NBC that earlier this year, 7th District City Councilwoman María Quiñónes-Sánchez and state Rep. Ángel Cruz told outlets, they were against the sites in the Kensington area. The judge was not expected to rule on the motion Thursday.

More from our Sister Sites