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International Overdose Awareness Day March, Vigil, and Rally

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Contact: Yonah Zeitz, yonah@katalcenter.org • 347-201-2769

Follow on Twitter @KatalCenter •  #ShutRikers #CloseRikers #CutShutInvestNY

18 New Yorkers Die Every Day from Preventable Overdoses Statewide

This Year Alone, Multiple Deaths At Rikers Island Were Due to Overdoses, People Need Support and Treatment Not Criminalization and Incarceration 

To Save Lives, Governor Hochul Must Authorize Overdose Prevention Centers, and Mayor Adams Must Shut Down Rikers and Invest in Harm Reduction and Real Community Safety

Statement by Katal Center 

New York, NY: Today, we joined VOCAL-NY, OnPoint NYC, and dozens of community groups, service providers, doctors, and faith leaders for an International Overdose Awareness Day march, vigil, and rally. Right now, 18 New Yorkers die every day from preventable overdoses and several of the recent deaths at Rikers were due to overdoes. 

New York is facing an overdose crisis and a crisis at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex. Elected officials must take urgent action to divest from systems of harm that perpetuate the deadly and misguided drug war and invest in care and harm reduction to end the preventable overdose crisis and save lives. New Yorkers deserve treatment and support, not criminalization and the deadly conditions of Rikers Island. 

Statement from Anthony Maund, Leader of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “Many of my family members have a substance abuse disorder, and I constantly worry about them. I have loved ones who have died because of an overdose. I personally struggle with an addiction. I’ve overdosed in the past and nearly died a couple of times. I’ve seen the devastation and the impact it has had on my mother. Words cannot explain the hurt she felt when she couldn’t resuscitate me. This is something that I am constantly battling with, and every day I try my absolute best to do better for myself. I am in a community where I am watching everyone around me struggle with an addiction. We don’t deserve to be discriminated against because of an addiction. Instead of treating us like human beings, oftentimes we are forgotten and as a result, end up dead. Many people won’t understand until it hits close to home. It is easy to read the obituary section and see the names of those who have died, but it is difficult when you know the person. I know lots of people who were very successful and would still be here had they been able to get help. They didn’t get help because they were afraid. We need the Governor and state officials to wake up and put in place more overdose prevention centers, educate our communities, and provide people with the proper care they deserve!”

Statement from Henry Robinson, Leader of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “My mother’s husband died of an overdose. It was heartbreaking. I remember when I was younger, he would look after me and protect me from neighborhood bullies. He was just like everyone else, but he never got the proper care he deserved. There are people dying in our communities who are in need of care. The system is flawed and has for decades criminalized people simply because they are battling an addiction. Sending people to Rikers or any other carceral system because they have a substance abuse disorder does not solve anything. Last week, a person died at Rikers due to an overdose. People need proper treatment. It is time for state officials to step in and put in place programs of prevention and of care. No one should be dying because of an overdose.”

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