In Paris, crack at the center of yet another battle between the town hall and the State

On the orders of the Ministry of the Interior, the police headquarters decided to move consumers from the north of the capital to a district in the east. The city, which denounces a lack of consultation and long-term vision, opposes it.

And here we go again for a new game. The mayor of Paris and the police headquarters are again opposed to the sensitive subject of crack users in the capital, the chief of the police having decided to move them out of the northeast of the capital, their historical regrouping area. In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the police headquarters said it had, at the request of the Minister of the Interior, identified a place belonging to the SNCF in the 12th arrondissement of the capital in order to install crack users there, grouped since the end of September porte de la Villette, in the 19th century.

According to the prefecture, the public transport group has “gave consent” to the state for “lending and making available” of one of its plots located. It is in this industrial wasteland that the Bercy-Charenton urban project should emerge within a few years, a new district made up of housing, offices, shops and green spaces. For the prefect, this site satisfies “the best possible” to the search criteria: “As far as possible from residential areas, shops or transport hubs” but all the same “accessible to health and social services”.

“Prevent this strategy”

But for Emmanuel Grégoire, Anne Hidalgo’s right-hand man, the choice of this concerted development zone is a “absolute absurdity” and an “solitary decision taken without any consultation”. The first deputy mayor of Paris clarifies the city’s intention to “to obstruct this strategy in the hours to come” and requests an emergency meeting with the other partners of the crack plan, the prefecture of Ile-de-France and the Regional Health Agency.

Emmanuel Grégoire, himself elected from the 12th arrondissement, denounces a “simple displacement of the problem” and site selection “absurd in the opinion of professionals and associations”. The Parisian health assistant, Anne Souyris (EE-LV), said to herself “flabbergasted” by this decision. “We put them in another wasteland and all that by force, without shelter, without perspective”, she laments.

In a letter sent Monday to the prefect, Anne Hidalgo had reaffirmed her “clear and firm opposition” to a new organized displacement of consumers of this cheap and highly addictive derivative of cocaine. “Drug users need comprehensive, social and health care that the succession of police operations does not respond to”, underlines the mayor and socialist presidential candidate.

What the prefect of police of Paris, Didier Lallement, retorts: “Removing drug users does not definitively solve the problem of crack, but it is a duty vis-à-vis the residents of the 19th and 18th centuries who have been tested for too long by the presence of drug users.”

25 million euros

At the end of September, despite the disagreement of the town hall, the prefect had already decided to relocate drug addicts from the gardens of Eole, where they had been grouped together since the spring to relieve the neighboring district of Stalingrad, towards the Porte de la Villette. If this trip succeeds, it will be their third trip in the space of nine months.

Monday morning at Porte de la Villette, on the orders of the prefecture, diggers destroyed the hard shelters frequented, according to deputy Anne Souyris, by 150 to 200 drug addicts. In the evening, a hundred residents demonstrated to demand that a lasting solution be found to shelter these drug addicts.

Between 2019 and 2022, the city and the State mobilized for their anti-crack plan 25 million euros instead of the 9 million initially planned. This money has mainly made it possible to accommodate 450 drug addicts, without providing a lasting solution to their wandering in the streets of the northeast of the capital.

In mid-September, the situation seemed to be unblocked with the letter from Prime Minister Jean Castex announcing government support for the creation of new places “reception and rest”, solution advocated by Anne Hidalgo.

But, in front of the mobilization of the residents, the town hall acted at the same time the abandonment of a project of this type located near a school, rue Pelleport in the XXth. No proposals have emerged since.

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