'We'll shut these sites down': Protesters say safe injection sites not welcome in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A protest took place on Sunday in South Philadelphia opposing the establishment of supervised injection sites for drug addicts in the city.

The protests come after a week-long debate over the controversial topic.

On Tuesday, Safehouse was given the green light by a federal judge to open a safe injection site in South Philadelphia.

Under the Safehouse plan, people could bring drugs to the clinic-like setting, use them in a partitioned bay and get medical help if they overdose. They would also have access to counseling, treatment and other health services.

On Wednesday, Safehouse officials were met with outraged community members during an announcement of the plan.

"You can't come into a community, make a decision such as putting a safe injection site, putting children in danger, without consulting with the community. But most importantly the site was absurd in the first place," said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

By Thursday, the entire plan crumbled after the lease was canceled at the planned site located at the Constitution Health Plaza.

RELATED: Constitution Health Plaza cancels plans for safe injection site in South Philadelphia

Protesters took to the streets on Sunday near the South Philadelphia health plaza saying safe injection sites are not welcome in this city.

"They tabled the idea at Broad and McKean. They are actively working right now to figure out another place to put this. Ed Rendell and Jim Kenney want to say that they had the first site in the nation for money reasons we believe and political reasons we believe. We're not going to let that happen. I have 2,000 people that came out today. I have almost 10,000 members that stand behind me and we'll go anywhere in this city. I will stand united with every citizen in Philadelphia and I'll go to any neighborhood with my organization and we'll shut these sites down throughout the city," said Anthony Giordano who founded 'Stand Up South Philly and Take Our Streets Back.'

Safehouse organizers told Action News that the site was chosen in South Philadelphia because the zip code has the third-highest overdose rate in the city. New data obtained by Action News show South Philadelphia is actually tied for 6th.

We created this interactive map of Philadelphia that breaks down overdose deaths by zip code

In 2018, Action News traveled to Canada where safe injection sites are already up and running. Our visit came with mixed reactions.

The facilities are clean and a gateway to rehabilitation. But we also saw prevalent drug use and sales outside the facilities during and after operating hours. We even saw assaults and other crimes.
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