FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – JANUARY 16, 2024
DRUG USER LIBERATION FRONT SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, sḵwx̱wú7mesh & səlilwətaɬ lands – Supporters across the world rallied today in defense of Jeremy Kalicum and Eris Nyx, co-founders of the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF). A demonstration at the courthouse in Vancouver called for an end to the criminalization of DULF, and was coordinated with solidarity actions from Nelson to Calgary, Alberta and Dublin, Ireland to London, UK.
In October 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 crowd was united in demands for a regulated, predictable, and accessible supply of substances as an urgent solution to the drug poisoning crisis declared an emergency seven years ago.
“The drug toxicity crisis has killed over 13,000 people since being declared a public health emergency. 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 deprescribing, forced tapering, and cutting people off of their medications. These acts force people towards an unpredictable and contaminated supply..."
– Corey Ranger, President, Harm Reduction Nurses Association
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 have 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.”
– André Gomes and Shayla Schlossenberg, Release (UK)
Leslie McBain, Moms Stop The Harm
250 868 6490 / momsstoptheharm [at] gmail.com (momsstoptheharm[at]gmail[dot]com)
Vince Tao, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users
778 814 8836 / vince [at] vandu.org (vince[at]vandu[dot]org)
Alexandra Holtom [French or English]
438 820 9197 / alexandraholtom [at] gmail.com (alexandraholtom[at]gmail[dot]com)