Stalingrad, the Paris neighborhood victim of crack

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Erran, staring blankly. Euphoria leads to panic attacks, hallucinations, persecutory delusions, paranoia, depression, and insomnia. They go from one state to the next, caught in the vicious cycle of one of the most addictive and destructive drugs: crack. Men and women, the majority wandering, slaves to their addiction, roam, day and night, through the 19th arrondissement of Paris. Your dependency, a neglected social problem, has degraded the life of the neighborhood for years: the scene of fights, robberies and various assaults. This is the land of traffickers and drug addicts ignored by the local authorities.

“We live a hell”, summarizes a resident of the neighborhood, located northeast of the capital. “I had to explain to my five-year-old son what drugs are and their consequences […] It is impossible to avoid the subject when every morning on the way to school you come across more than 50 drug addicts, some exalted by their last dose and others in full withdrawal syndrome, “he laments.

Photo taken by a neighbor of a drug addict who smokes crack every day in a passage.

The circulation of drugs and their consumption is nothing new in the Parisian neighborhood, especially around the Stalingrad metro station. “The problem has existed for 30 years. However, it has been deteriorating little by little “, explains Patricia, a member of the neighborhood for more than four decades and co-founder of the initiative. Collectif19, designed to collect the testimonies of its neighbors and denounce political inaction.

“The crack hill”

The degradation would have among its origins a key date: June 27, 2018. At that time, the Porte de la Chapelle, north of the capital, had become a clandestine camp for the sale and consumption of narcotics. Baptized as “crack hill”, was raised as an unavoidable meeting point for drug addicts, where more than a hundred cohabited. “In 2018 the prefecture closed the ‘hill’ […] Far from solving the problem, scattered around the surrounding neighborhoods, among them, ours “, explains Patricia.

The camp closed and without a medical-social assistance capable of helping consumers, the begging and the way little by little they were imposed on the streets of the XIX district. On the night of September 10, 2018, the edge of the Loire canal, in the heart of the Parisian district, became the scene of a tragedy that many residents saw coming: a 31-year-old man stabbed seven passersby. The authorities favored the hypothesis of a tragedy linked to psychological problems caused by the consumption of narcotics.

“An hour before, we saw the individual in question walking through the canal, threatening to cut his genitals […]We already know how the matter ended, “laments Marc indignantly, owner of a restaurant located on the canal.”It could be one of the most idyllic neighborhoods in ParisWe have the largest pond in the capital and the best green spaces, but the authorities have allowed the situation to rot, “he denounces.

For Marc, the problem has tangible consequences: the increase in violence translates into a loss of between 20 and 30% of its turnover in the last year. “We have hired a person who is dedicated solely to preventing crack smokers from approaching the terrace to beg, many of them, under the influence of drugs, attack customers, take food from their plates […] They took home a fresh sirloin once! Obviously, every day we lose part of our clientele & rdquor ;, he says jaded. The clientele does not return, but neither do some employees: “so far this year, twenty waiters and waitresses have resigned & mldr; Of course! & Mldr; Every night, on the way to the subway after the last service, they experienced some kind of aggression & rdquor ;.

Many crack smokers, under the influence of the drug, attack customers, take food from their plates. Once they took a freshly served sirloin! Denounces Marc, a neighbor.

Violence is now part of the daily life of the neighborhood. “The turning point was the confinement – says ‘Stalincrack’, the name of a Twitter user, after which a resident of the neighborhood appears -. Hundreds of drug addicts – between 200 and 300 – were abandoned by the associations and assistance centers that they closed their doors, from the first day the streets became their home. ” The neighbors insist, it is a social problem, sick women and men who need specific and urgent assistance.

A social problem

“Every day, to leave the house we have to avoid consumers and traffickers […] Sometimes we find them inside the landing. People who live on the ground floors cannot open their windows. We live surrounded by robberies and attacks, also threats & mldr; ‘We are in our house’, drug dealers often scold us. Given the impunity that surrounds them, it is not surprising & rdquor ;, continues ‘Stalincrack’ who, with the aim of denouncing the degradation of the neighborhood, is currently working on a documentary about the problem.

Stalingrad, the Paris neighborhood victim of crack

Another young man using drugs in the neighborhood.

The fights in the wee hours of the morning, prostitution, robberies, are visible consequences of an addiction. “The police intervene, but it is not the solution, it is not a crime problem, crime is a secondary effect, the mayor of the district should assume its responsibility and create the necessary structures to assist crack users, “continues the resident.

In the center of all eyes, appears the Paris ‘Crack Plan’ provided with 9 million euros and aimed at solving the problem in the northeast of the capital, where there are about 5,000 crack smokers. Accompanying users to reduce risks and promote care channels, reinforce accommodation and rest capacity, and intervene in public space both to assist users and residents, are three of the objectives of the plan. Adopted in 2019, with a three million annual budget, it should conclude in 2021.

Local mobilization

“We do not know anything about the plan, there is no visibility or communication about the measures that have been adopted […] Many neighbors are traumatized, also the children of the neighborhood, but there is no type of Psychological Support at our disposal “, denounces a neighbor whose indignation is translated today in the organization of a local group of activists.

Ignored by local authorities, a gang of neighbors stick labels with phrases like ‘Stalin-crack’ The ‘Zona de Deal’, in the hottest spaces, to recover your neighborhood. “It is not about stigmatizing drug addicts, but about demanding the intervention of the relevant authorities to quell the situation,” he insists.

And while the local authorities They continue to ignore the problem – contacted in the context of this report did not answer our questions – the neighborhood is languishing. “Many apartments have been left empty, many neighbors have thrown in the towel & mldr; Our day to day is unbearable & rdquor ;, concludes ‘Stalincrack’.

In the middle of the afternoon on any given day, it is impossible to ignore the problem, men and women wander through the XIX neighborhood with lost eyes, prisoners of their dependency, slaves of crack. “And this is nothing,” explains a resident. At night this seems like a real battlefield”.

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