Supporters across the world rallied today in defence of Jeremy Kalicum and Eris Nyx, co-founders of the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF). A demonstration at the courthouse in Vancouver with solidarity actions in Nelson, Calgary, Dublin, Ireland and London, England called for an end to the criminalization of DULF and immediate expansion of safe supply options for people at risk of unregulated drug toxicity.
On October 25, 2023, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) arrested and raided the homes of Jeremy and Eris. VPD also shut down DULF’s compassion club, abruptly cutting off a safe and tested supply of drugs to over forty people.
Drug user advocates consider the VPD’s egregious arrests as part of an effort by government and health authority executives to dismantle and delegitimize DULF’s life-saving compassion club project. Using rigorous testing and evaluation, the year-long project provided evidence to support the need for a non-medical safe supply of drugs to end the toxic drug poisoning crisis. The same type of program was independently recommended by the B.C. Coroner’s Death Review Panel report issued November 1, 2023.
“The toxicity of the drugs is getting worse. Our government has refused to support life-saving initiatives like DULF, it is politics over our dead bodies, just cause we’re people who use drugs. They would rather us die than support us.”
Kali Sedgemore, Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War
Supporters at the rallies decried the hypocrisy of government officials in persecuting DULF and its compassion club. BC Premier David Eby justified his government’s decision to defund DULF and the VPD raids that followed despite admitting DULF was “providing essential, life-saving work.”
“Our elected officials are showing they value political points more than human life by supporting decampments, toying with involuntary treatment, forcing people to die in isolation through Bill 34, dismissing the Death Review Panel Report upon receipt, and criminalizing DULF. Compassion clubs save lives – while the BC NDP's policy decisions are killing people.”
Anmol Swaich, MSc student, Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University
The crowds are united in demands for a regulated, predictable, and accessible supply of substances as an urgent solution to the drug poisoning crisis.
“The drug toxicity crisis has killed over 13,000 people since being declared a public health emergency. The provincial and federal governments know the cause of the crisis - an unregulated and toxic drug supply - but continue to impede the scale-up of life-saving initiatives. Each time a pilot project ends, people are put at risk of death. We know the risk of de-prescribing, forced tapering, and cutting people off of their medications. These acts force people towards an unpredictable supply contaminated with benzodiazepines and animal tranquilizers."
Corey Ranger, President, Harm Reduction Nurses Association
The drug toxicity crisis was declared an emergency nearly eight years ago in BC, and people are being poisoned by the global unregulated drug supply under collective public war on drugs policies and laws, which likewise uphold unregulated markets where workers are criminalized, incarcerated, and have no recourse for poor or dangerous conditions.
“No number of beds can stabilize a volatile drug supply. Healthcare systems are strained, and limited prescribed options take months of visits to become therapeutic, if they ever do. Opioid detox now requires taking a long-acting alternative to reduce the risk of dying at discharge; nevermind the other ingredients. DULF showed us how tested distribution can save lives. Regulate the drug supply before all of us who access the unregulated market - at any frequency - end up dead.”
Tyson Singh Kelsall ਤੈਸੋਨਂ ਸਿੰਘ, outreach social worker and PhD student, Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Sciences
On November 3, 2023, nearly six hundred supporters marched from the Downtown Eastside to Victory Square in defense of DULF. The massive mobilization, organized only a week after Jeremy and Eris’ arrests, demonstrated that the persecution of DULF was not in the public interest.
Today’s rallies coincide with Jeremy and Eris’ first scheduled appearance before the court. The DULF Solidarity Committee – a grassroots, volunteer coalition formed in October 2023 – intends to build a broad-based, international campaign to oppose the criminalization of DULF’s co-founders and community-led safe supply initiatives everywhere.
“DULF has led the way, showing how a community can organize to protect themselves, with or without political support. Their life-saving activities are needed now more than ever, and are a global example of action when faced with government inaction. Jeremy and Eris have been scapegoated while DULF’s efforts to protect their community by the books were ignored. Their actions should be celebrated, not criminalized.
Safe supply is a necessary step in the battle for liberation. It is anti-prohibitionist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist; it is a needed step to keep vulnerable and racialised communities alive and well.”
André Gomes and Shayla Schlossenberg, Release, UK’s national centre of expertise on drugs and drug law
In Calgary / Mohkinstsis, a rally was held at the Central Memorial Park war memorial to emphasize the war that drug prohibition represents: a war on workers, a war on queer communities, a war on people with disabilities or chronic pain, and a war on racialized communities—in Canada, particularly, a war on Indigenous communities. Rally attendees marched to the provincial courthouse demanding low-barrier safe supply access.
“Indigenous communities are in constant grief from the lack of cultural resources, housing and safe supply needed to prevent amputations & deaths. This is why we call it ongoing genocide along with other oppressive policies designed to ‘clear the plains’ of the original peoples’ with inherent land rights.”
Michelle Robinson (Red Thunderwoman), Native Calgarian
Note: As of noon PST January 16, BC courts delayed legal proceedings, potentially indicating they will drop charges against DULF. We will update if formal notice is given.
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