An estimated thirteen thousand people use crack cocaine in the wider Paris region. There are a group of about 400 extremely marginalized users who can often be seen consuming in parks, causing a public nuisance. Despite this, in the 30 years since crack arrived in Paris, the government has only ever offered ad hoc (non)solutions to the problem, rather than having any kind of comprehensive long-term strategy. These users have merely been chased from one public place to another, without any real attempt being made to treat them. From Stalingrad square to the infamous “Crack Hill” in the Port de la Chapelle, and from there to the Eole Garden. In September 2021 the police closed down the garden and herded hundreds of crack users onto buses, shipped them to Porte de la Villette, and literally bricked up the tunnel which would have allowed them to walk back towards the wealthier parts of the city. This wall – an ugly and very physical manifestation of the authorities’ attempts to separate these crack users from the rest of society – has been nicknamed the Wall of Shame.
Drugreporter’s new documentary, co-produced with the International Network of People who Use Drugs and ASUD, the French drug user union gives a detailed analysis of the case of crack in Paris.