Curious welcome for a public garden. This Wednesday, June 30, four agents of the new municipal police stand in front of the only door still open to the Eole gardens, in the north-east of Paris, and filter the entrances. The other three entrances were closed. “Don’t you have alcohol with you?” ” asks a woman in uniform of a man who wants to cross the roadblock. ” No “, he replies. The officers let him in. The target, in reality, is less alcohol than a drug that has become endemic in the neighborhood, crack cocaine. Objective: to prevent consumers of this inexpensive and highly addictive product from settling again in the gardens of Aeolus.
A complete turnaround compared to the last few weeks. Since May 17, the State and the City of Paris, on the contrary, encouraged crack users to meet in this public garden, rather than in the streets and squares of the district. It was then a question of relieving the residents of the place of Stalingrad, who could not take any more drug addicts in need, aggressive beggars and the nocturnal noise. Exceptionally, the public authorities had therefore opened the gardens of Eole at night, so that the “crackers” have a place where they can consume while disturbing fewer people, and under surveillance.
From the outset, Anne Hidalgo’s team warned that it was a temporary solution, the time to come to an agreement with the State on a more lasting aid system for drug addicts. “The park must return to normal use from the summer”, asserted the town hall.
No solution was unanimous
A month and a half later, Anne Hidalgo decided to keep her promise, to the satisfaction of the residents, who protested every week against this “Crack Land”. Since Wednesday, drug users no longer have the right to come to the public garden, which is again closed at night. “The park is returned to its natural users, the inhabitants of the district, rejoices the mayor of the 19e district, François Dagnaud. A whole entertainment program is planned for them during the summer. ” The police, who would have preferred to extend the Eole solution a bit, are responsible for ensuring that drug addicts do not return to this place they have occupied almost constantly since its inauguration in 2007.
Where are they going to go? This is the key question. Because the past six weeks were not enough for the public authorities to agree on the rest. The town hall and the prefecture have looked for a vast area, close to the places where the few hundred “crackers” have their habits, and as far away as possible from homes. Several avenues have been considered, in particular railway wasteland in northeastern Paris and the Place Auguste-Baron, under the ring road (19e). None was unanimous. “The discussions stumbled because the State is not clear on the subject, analyzes a participant in the meetings, on the Town Hall side. The Ministry of the Interior, that of Health, the regional prefecture, and the police headquarters do not have the same vision. Can we or cannot we create places of medicalized drug consumption in the public space? Nothing is arbitrated. ”
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