The Philadelphia City Council voted to override the mayor’s veto of a bill that prohibits supervised injection sites across most of the city.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, on Wednesday vetoed the council’s bill to ban sites allowing people to take their drug of choice under the supervision of medical staff. The next day, the majority Democrat council overrode his veto 14-1.
“I am frustrated that my colleagues will not let our city lead other communities in implementing public health policies that, again, are saving lives, reducing public consumption, and reducing dangerous litter in other cities around the world,” the mayor told Fox News in a statement. “This is a public health crisis and not a question of public opinion.”
HOW THIS DRUG HAVEN GOT ‘DRAMATICALLY WORSE,’ ACCORDING TO A FORMER RESIDENT
WATCH MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE
The legislation, which originally passed the Philadelphia City Council 13-1 on Sept. 14, would update zoning codes to prohibit supervised drug consumption sites in nine of the city’s 10 districts, including in Kensington. On an average day in the neighborhood, — infamous for its open-air drug market — addicts can be seen overdosing in the streets, smoking or injecting fentanyl on sidewalks and drug deals taking place on street corners.
Overdoses killed a record 1,413 people in Philadelphia in 2022, an 11% increase from the year prior, according to city health officials.
Further, Pennsylvania was among the top 10 states with the highest overdose death rates in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose mortality hit a record-high of 5,449 deaths across the state, up nearly 25% since 2019.
Council members celebrated the passage of the bill and called out the mayor for ineffectively addressing the city’s record overdose deaths.
“Remember that those overdoses that have occurred in the last eight years are his responsibility,” said City Council member Quetcy Lozada, whose district includes Kensington.
“This Council had to make a tough decision today, and I appreciate the fact that we stuck together and that ultimately we responded to the people that we represent,” Lozada said. “This is what leadership looks like: making decisions that are not popular and that are difficult, but necessary.”
Advocates argue that drug consumption sites could prevent overdoses and save lives, while opponents argue that they enable addicts to continue using and won’t solve the root issue of their addiction.
CRISIS IN KENSINGTON: RESIDENT SAYS NEIGHBORHOOD ‘GIVEN TO THE WOLVES,’ BEGS PEOPLE TO STOP FEEDING ADDICTS
The only operating supervised consumption sites in the U.S. are in New York. Another is expected to open in Providence, Rhode Island, next year.
Lawmakers in Colorado and Pennsylvania also have recently voted to reject such sites.
Still, some Philadelphia residents admonished the City Council.
“For you to sit here and say ‘No, we will not do it,’ even though the science proves that it works, is mind-blowing,” Moses Santana, an activist from Kensington, said at the meeting Thursday. “We will organize to remove you.”
“Democrats who are voting like Republicans,” Santana continued, “we will vote to remove you. I promise you.”
The mayor’s office did not return a request for comment.
To see more about Philadelphia’s open-air drug market, click here.
Source: Fox News