AFP, published on Wednesday June 30, 2021 at 19:32

Les Jardins d’Eole breathe, but not sure that drug addicts will go very far: the question of their care remains open after the decision of Anne Hidalgo to chase crack users from this park in northeast Paris where they do not. cease to be displaced.

Wednesday morning, a man, looking haggard and pants down, combs the sidewalk examining every piece of garbage and almost gets run over by cars, all under the surveillance of CRS who do not flinch.

The scene takes place at the north entrance to the Jardins d’Eole, a park created in 2007 along the railway tracks, on the edge of the 18th and 19th arrondissements. A few hours earlier, dozens of people who used crack and even other hard drugs – more and more needles had been collected in recent days, according to the town hall – were spending the night there.

Like every evening since mid-May, the northern part of the park that they were allowed to occupy until 1 a.m. in order to relieve the residents of neighboring Stalingrad was closed to them in the middle of the night, leaving them wandering in the neighborhood, according to the testimonies collected by AFP and the few videos shot.

Except that this time, the “users” of crack were not able to return to the park when it reopened: in their place, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, who came to keep her promise that this park “will once again become a garden for local residents”. June.

Watching over his children aged 6, 4 and 2 in the playground, John did not stop frequenting the park during the month and a half of this “temporary emergency device” decided by the prefecture in agreement with the town hall.

“Last week, we arrived at 10 am, there were drug addicts having breakfast in the children’s area. If we are not awake, we will find pipettes, syringes … “Says the father who has always lived in the neighborhood.

General cleaning, implementation of “positive” activities by the town hall – an urban farm with notably goats in semi-freedom – and municipal agents who control the only entrance that remains open: the Town promotes the “rebirth” of the park where , she says, “the consumption of narcotic products will no longer be tolerated”.

But from Wednesday afternoon, “there are still some who have managed to return”, assures Kamel, resident of the Stop Crack Eole collective !. And at 7:00 p.m., around thirty drug addicts had already taken their places in front of the north entrance, which had become their hideout, without a police presence.

“Now I still have a tear gas canister on me,” says Régine, another local resident who shows increased insecurity.

“Obviously, they will not disappear”, assumes Eric Lejoindre, the mayor of the 18th arrondissement who has seen drug addicts being moved from neighborhood to neighborhood, over the evacuations. “This is why we need the government to say clearly what its doctrine is.”

Because a standoff is playing out between the town hall, the prefecture and especially the government in which the Minister of Health Olivier Véran stood out from the hard line displayed by his colleague from the Interior Gérald Darmanin by wishing the perpetuation of lower risk consumption rooms (SCMR), nicknamed “shoot rooms”.

During her visit, Anne Hidalgo affirmed that she “would open places” to welcome drug addicts if the State “does not take its responsibilities”.

If the elected Socialist affirms to have made “several proposals to the State”, a police source affirms that Mrs. Hidalgo refused a proposal of place of reception made by the police headquarters.

For its part, the right-wing opposition denounced “the absolute cynicism” of the town hall. “The gardens of Eole closed, whose turn? The consumers of crack will stay there and continue to wander around the park, in the streets and halls of buildings”, assure the elected LR and related.

To avoid new regroupings in the Stalingrad zone, the police presence should be reinforced there. For John, “the problem is not going to be solved, but only moved”.

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