The Garment District is Gotham’s latest capturing gallery, a disturbing heroin hotspot of addicts capturing up in broad daylight.
The outgoing de Blasio administration seems unwilling or unable to deal with the disaster, as the quality-of-life catastrophe unfolds simply steps from high-profile Midtown landmarks comparable to Macy’s, Madison Square Garden and the glowing new Moynihan Train Hall.
The block bordered by thirty fifth and thirty sixth streets, and Seventh and Eighth avenues, is “littered with used needles, broken glass crack pipes, trash, urine, and feces” as junkies shoot up and sellers openly promote medicine, lamented one neighbor on social media. “I’ve personally seen dozens of deals go down. I’ve seen a person OD and nearly die.”
During a single stroll round the block final week, The Post witnessed three completely different folks injecting needles in their wrists or fingers in the center of the afternoon. Each addict sat on the sidewalk or in empty storefronts. Dozens of different junkies sat or lay almost comatose, many of the males shirtless, on the identical block.
“We are appalled and disgusted by the drug use and other illicit behaviors that are taking place on our sidewalks in Midtown Manhattan and throughout New York City,” Garment District Alliance President Barbara Blair advised The Post. “We have been fighting to put an end to this crisis, however our city officials have unfortunately failed to address the problem and have allowed this public disorder to continue.”
Drug sellers seem to function fearlessly on the block. A gaggle of males, one of them sitting on a blue Citibike, gathered outdoors the A-C-E subway entrance on the northeast nook of Eighth and thirty fifth, exchanging money and different gadgets as straphangers raced by them up and down the stairs.
Another deal went down as two males exchanged money and small plastic baggage on thirty sixth Street.
The NYPD seems to have solely a token presence. Two cops stood on Eighth Avenue between thirty fifth and thirty sixth, leaning up in opposition to a police van whereas staring into their telephones, as illicit actions swirled round them.
But cops have been “effectively ordered” by metropolis and state leaders to let junkies roam free, stated Manny Gomez, a former NYPD sergeant and FBI particular agent who now heads MG Security Services.
Under state regulation, possessing needles or small quantities of heroin, or injecting medicine, are non-bail offenses. So even when arrested, addicts are often proper again on the road and unlikely to face prosecution.
Gomez says cops face unnecessary private dangers, too, with out the help of political leaders. These dangers embody the risk of being stabbed by emotionally disturbed, needle-wielding junkies, probably contaminated with HIV, and the indisputable fact that NYC this 12 months grew to become the first municipality in the nation to finish certified immunity for cops.
If an arrest with a violent drug-addled particular person turns unhealthy, Gomez stated, the cop “could lose their pension, their job, their home or even their freedom. It’s just not worth it.”
As a end result, “New York City has become the city of The Walking Dead,” stated Michael Alcazar, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former NYPD detective.
“This is the worst this block has ever been,” the neighbor wrote in his social media put up. “People live here, and despite reporting and pleading with the NYPD to patrol more down this block, they are not doing anything to try and catch these dealers.”
In the Midtown South Precinct, which covers the drug-ravaged space, crime is up 42 % this 12 months via Sept. 12 in comparison with the identical interval in 2020, NYPD information present. The crime wave features a surprising rise in gun violence. Ten folks have been hit with bullets to this point this 12 months in comparison with only one particular person at the identical level final 12 months.
The sobering scorecard additionally exhibits robberies have skyrocketed, with 268 this 12 months in comparison with 95 in 2020; and felony assaults hovering over the identical interval from 124 to 326. There have been two murders, in comparison with one final 12 months.
The rampant use of exhausting medicine in the coronary heart of Midtown comes as New York City is in the midst of a lethal opioid disaster that has been “terribly neglected” by the de Blasio administration and different leaders, stated Luke Nasta, the govt director of Camelot Counseling, a longtime substance abuse therapy heart on Staten Island.
He says the method by leaders right here and throughout the nation of “coddling people who find themselves dependent on drugs and making more drugs (such as methadone) widely available to them,” coupled with an effort to handcuff regulation enforcement, has solely served to “open up the flood gates of drug abuse, which is why overdose deaths are escalating and we see what we see on the streets.”
Nasta opened Camelot Counseling in 1976 and says the drug disaster has “never been as widespread or as visible as it is now.”
A “tidal wave” of artificial methamphetamine and lethal fentanyl manufactured in Mexican labs and shipped to New York City has solely exacerbated the opioid disaster, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported earlier this 12 months.
The metropolis suffered 1,446 overdose deaths in the first three quarters of 2020, the final interval for which information is out there, in keeping with a report from the metropolis Health Department, a rise of 38 % from 2019 OD fatalities.
“This is a city problem. How has the city eroded this far so quickly?” requested Alcazar. “With lack of treatment and open use of drugs … the city has lost its focus.”
Meanwhile, a neighborhood usually crammed with the buzz of vacationers from round the globe passing between Penn Station and Times Square is the newest image of New York City’s descent into decay and dysfunction.
“It is absolutely critical that our elected officials take action immediately to remove these individuals from the streets and ensure the safety of all residents, employees and visitors as we work to rebuild New York City following the pandemic,” Blair stated. “This change is long overdue.”