Crack in Paris: Hidalgo refuses the movement of consumers and elected officials retaliate

After the cancellation of the movement of crack users requested by the prefect of police, several elected officials announce a “political” and “legal” battle against the mayor of Paris

The town hall of Paris, supported by right-wing elected officials, launched a “political” and “legal” battle on Wednesday January 26 to have the movement of crack users from north-eastern Paris to Bercy canceled, decided by the prefect of police, while its reception center projects have come to a standstill.

Subject of regular clashes between the mayor Anne Hidalgo, candidate of the PS in the presidential election, and the prefect Didier Lallement, who recalls receiving his instructions from the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, the presence in the public space of the north- is Parisian of 150 to 200 crack users has returned to the fore since Monday.

“There will be a political battle, there will be a legal battle”, affirmed the first deputy (PS) Emmanuel Grégoire, after the announcement Tuesday evening, by the prefecture, of an agreement between the SNCF and the State for the “loan” of a plot located between the gates of Bercy and Charenton (XIIand district) in order to “direct” consumers of this cheap and highly addictive derivative of cocaine.

At the end of September, the prefect had already dispensed with the agreement of the town hall to move these drug addicts from the Jardins d’Eole (XVIIIand), where they had been regrouped in May in order to relieve the neighboring district of Stalingrad (19th century), towards a small square at Porte de La Villette, still in the North-East, on the edge of Seine-Saint-Denis.

This would therefore be their third organized trip in the space of nine months.

The right also opposes

“The prefect of police succeeded in creating unanimity against him” with this “baroque initiative”, in particular because of “the incongruity of the proposed place”, underlined Mr. Grégoire, who requested an emergency meeting of the actors of the “plan crack”.

This meeting will take place on Tuesday, indicated on Twitter the regional prefecture, another arm of the State which is involved in it, with the Prefecture of police and the regional health agency (ARS).

Between 2019 and 2022, the City and State services mobilized 25 million euros for this plan instead of the nine million initially planned. This money made it possible to accommodate 450 drug addicts, without providing a lasting solution to their wandering. At the same time, the City will study “several legal remedies”, according to Mr. Grégoire, who is waiting for this “the occupancy agreement which would be signed” between the SNCF and the State.

“There will be a political battle, there will be a legal battle”

An appeal to the administrative court “is quite possible”, estimated the mayor of the neighboring town of Charenton-le-Pont, Hervé Gicquel (LR), for whom “it is wrong to say that we are on spaces to the housing gap”, criterion put forward by the prefect.

Pending the advent of the new Bercy-Charenton district, within a few years, this railway wasteland was dedicated to temporary urban planning activities: gardening, recycling and other activities.

All political sides combined, the borough mayor (EELV) Emmanuelle Pierre-Marie, her opponent LR Valérie Montandon, the president (LR) of Val-de-Marne Olivier Capitanio also expressed their opposition to the prefect’s project. Just like the LREM deputy for the constituency, Laetitia Avia.

“Everyone’s fault”

This new standoff comes as the project of multiple small reception centers wanted by the town hall for these drug addicts has stalled since it gave up a site adjoining a school rue Pelleport (XXand), faced with the mobilization of local residents and the government’s veto.

“Things are frozen”, admitted health assistant Anne Souyris (EELV), denouncing the “schizophrenia” of Prime Minister Jean Castex who announced that he supported the creation of these rooms but “not in dense places and not with schools nearby”, which leaves little choice in the capital.

The experimentation with lower-risk consumption rooms (SCMR), nicknamed shooting rooms by their opponents and renamed addiction treatment centers (HSA), has nevertheless been extended for three years at the national level but “we cannot do them as long as that the decree has not appeared”, assured Ms. Souyris.

“This does not prevent us from instructing different places, different structures for months,” she said, however.

Scalded by the Pelleport episode, the town hall no longer wants to carry out these projects alone. “When the public authorities have agreed, we will make proposals,” said Mr. Grégoire for whom, if no lasting solution has been found for years, “it’s everyone’s fault” .

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