Zaire Best, protestor at July’s K&A demonstration
Editor’s note: The responses have been edited for clarity and conciseness. We tried to keep the majority of the points that were made, but some parts did need to be cut or rephrased. Phrases, such as “addicts” and “users”, were changed to “people experiencing addiction” and “people who use drugs” to follow Kensington Voice’s ethics of using person-first language.
Does the proposed Kensington Investment Plan represent the community’s current needs or priorities? Is there anything missing?
Editor’s note: Zaire wasn’t familiar enough with the plan to answer this question at the time of the interview.
Do you agree or disagree with the proposals under the “public safety strategy and expanded access to treatment” section and the “community cleaning and sanitation” section? Thoughts?
Yes. I love this: Reclaim intersections with open-air drug markets. Intersections with open-air drug markets are where all these drugs are coming from and that’s a huge problem. These communities didn’t start off like this back in the day; this had to stem from somewhere. Try to figure out exactly where these things are coming from so that you can tackle the problem from the root.
Under the “restorative community investment for safety and quality of life” section, which issues do you feel should receive priority funding?
Partnering with community organizations to complete minor repairs, like windows. When you walk all the way up from Allegheny Avenue straight to Girard Avenue — well, I mean, Girard is pretty much gentrified now — you see broken homes and [people experiencing homelessness] on the street. That creates another problem: Where are they gonna turn to? They’re gonna turn to the street, drugs.
Do you agree or disagree that adding a fully-staffed police district or Police Service Area (PSA) will help police officers respond to underserved parts of Kensington?
I disagree with that whole heartedly. I just got off the station at Somerset, and I literally saw four police officers just watching some people injecting; [the police] didn’t do anything. I’m a born and raised resident from Southwest Philadelphia. I’ve seen that all my life, growing up in the projects. So, what are they really doing here? They’re not even trying to help or address the problem. So, what are they doing?
Editor’s note: The status of the proposed Kensington Police Special Services District is mentioned in the city’s Restore Kensington Action Plan. You can read more about that here.
What should be a part of the city’s treatment options to aid people experiencing addiction?
I’m not sure the word for it, but a specialized person who helps people deal with addiction. Someone who studied this, went to school for this or is passionate about helping people get back on their feet when they’re overcome with addiction. I think that’s what needs to be in our community resources at the moment.
Editors: Zari Tarzona, Claire Wolters, Siani Colón / Designer: Henry Savage / Translator: Somlmaira Valerio
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