It was their second public demonstration against the synthetic cannabinoids responsible for the hospitalization of 33 people last month.
Proudly chanting and marching along the couple blocks west of Myrtle Broadway, the Doe Fund guys intentionally chose this location that became synonymous with strung out K2 users.
Present to speak out against the drug commonly referred to as “Spice” was Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, and Founder and President of The Doe Fund George McDonald. Riffing off each other, the speakers and Doe Fund guys all recognized a dire need for K2 to be rid from our streets, comparing its urgency to the gravity of the crack epidemic.
“Everybody says ‘Oh, it’s just a potpourri.’ Well, no, it’s not. When you see 33 people just laying on the floor … it’s not potpourri. It is drugs. Drugs that are probably laced with chemicals we don’t understand,” noted Davila, touching base on the fact that the constant change of chemical combination in K2 sets itself up for another, potentially bad batch.
Last month the police filed nuisance abatement actions against Big Boy Deli and Smoke Shop, local businesses that seem to have a gravitational pull for the unconscious, fading K2 users of the area. Despite the fact that no K2 turned up in either of the respective raids, many in the community treat the assumption that Big Boy and Smoke Shop have sold K2 as undeniable. The epidemic is so visceral that the Myrtle Broadway intersection has been given another name: Zombieland.
Doe Fund President and lifetime philanthropist George McDonald’s words about the consequences of K2 were cutting and to the point: “This is a public health issue. We’re not going to arrest our way out of Spice or K2. We are going to shut down the profiteers and we’re going to keep on coming back to any neighborhood in the city where they are obviously selling this, but we don’t want the people using it to be arrested.”
“What it’s doing is just killing people and I feel sorry for the kids that aren’t even here yet,” Craig, an alumni and overseer of operations for Ready, Willing, & Able told Bushwick Daily. “We could stop it if we wanna, but it’s gotta come from the top, “ he continued, referring to the necessity for K2 to be dealt with at a federal level.
Small businesses in the area showed support with their “No K2” signs out front. Genice, an employee of a small business along the route, told Bushwick Daily that she is regularly asked for K2 because of her job’s proximity to Zombieland. Though her employers have hung “No K2” in their window and are against K2, Genice vows to quit if that changes. Never having heard of the drug prior to her current employment, Genice has already noticed an unsettling shift among K2 users. “I’m starting to see the younger crew,” she says, lamenting further on how the K2 epidemic has reached unsettling heights when children are becoming addicts. “That’s when it hits close to home.”
Stay tuned for more updates involving K2 in Bushwick.
All photos by Cristin Noonan for Bushwick Daily.