Last week, a sea of blue took to a three-block stretch of Bed-Stuy just weeks after the mass overdose of synthetic marijuana plagued those same blocks, which are now colloquially known as “Zombieland.”
Just three weeks prior, over 100 people were hospitalized from overdosing on K2.
The Doe Fund, an organization that provides assistance for people with a history or homelessness, incarceration and substance abuse, had 40 of their “Men in Blue” march down Broadway to support local businesses refusing to sell the drug and to urge others to stop.
“We are not going to arrest our way out of spice or K2,” said Doe Fund founder George McDonald. “We are going to shut down the profiteers and keep coming back to any neighborhood in the city where they are obviously selling this.”
The group marched passed Big Boy Deli and Dream Burner Tobacco Shop, which were both subjected to raids based on suspicion of selling the drug after the mass overdoses weeks before, chanting “No More K2” and “Spice Kills.”
Some passing by the march fought back with “Yes K2.” Outside of Big Boy Deli, a few men came outside to protest the march, yelling at the group. However, walking down the strip many businesses could be seen with “No K2” signs on their storefronts.
Supporting the group and the overall effort to end the presence of K2 in the area were Assemblywomen Maritza Davila and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
“What is being sold in these stores is outrageous,” said Davila. “Our children should not be subjected, our community and people with mental illness should not be subjected, to this new epidemic.”
While people say, K2 is just “potpourri,” seeing 33 people on the street overdosed on it does not make it a spcie, it makes it a drug, said Davila.
McDonald emphasized that this is a public health issue and that most people using this drug are already in poor health. He says there needs to be a national policy.
Velazquez also called for national attention to the issue, saying she wrote to both the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling for strategies and resources to fight the crisis.
“We have been here too many times,” said Velazquez. “The last one was in the 80s with the crack epidemic and we were able to stand together as a community to fight. We are here to say to the dealers and any store, we are going to come after you, we are going to fight because we are protecting out families, our children and our community.”