Kensington, Philadelphia

Kayla Bullock

Staff Writer

Kensington is a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that is going through an opioid crisis that no government official seems to care to fix. Kensington is the largest open-air narcotics market for heroin on the East Coast. Some addicts come from all over, while some may never leave “zombie land.” 

Kensington, Philadelphia, also known as “zombie land,” is currently going through the worst opioid crisis in the United States. A drive through Kensington is horrifying. The streets are covered in trash, needles, feces and other things that are not suitable for human life. Missing posters cover every brick wall there is in the neighborhoods. Dealers are out in the open, calling out brand names and even giving out free samples of their products. Many people smoke crack, meth or inject heroin. The bodies of these people lay out in the street either high on drugs or dead. People sit everywhere, limp, and nodding off with a needle in their hand. Kensington looks like a scene out of a horror film. 

Once a blue-collar neighborhood, the devastation of Kensington came from the deindustrialization of the neighborhood in the 1950s. White people fled to live in suburban towns while Hispanics and African-Americans moved in. Lack of investments from the city turned this once-pleasant place into a drug market. Houses transformed into drug dens while factories became places to shoot-up and rail-yards into homes for people without them. People did not have the finances to move out of Kensington. 

Philadelphia County has the highest overdose rate of any of the ten most populous counties in America. Kensington is part of the largest cluster of overdose deaths in the city. Many of the addicts who come do not leave alive. In 2017, 236 people fatally overdosed in Kensington. Users on social media are shocked at the lack of effort from government officials. Over the years, the local government enforced clean-up projects but, unfortunately, the situation is still the same. In late 2016 and early 2017, Philadelphia’s progressive mayor, Jim Kenney, created a task force of addiction experts, doctors, social workers and Drug Enforcement Agency agents to come up with a plan to decrease the overdose deaths in the city. They planned to distribute Narcan, a medicine used to reverse an opioid overdose, at a wider scale and air media campaigns about the risk of opioids. This is a public health crisis with no right answer. By giving addicts Narcan, you are enabling their drug addiction. Not giving the medicine to them is writing their death sentence. Law enforcement and medical personnel respond to this crisis by handing out syringes and covering up dead bodies. It is not an easy issue, as it will take years and a lot of funding to reverse the damage done. 

A park in Kensington, also known as “Needle Park,” is where most addicts go to shoot up. In pictures provided by an Instagram profile under the name of “kensingtonbeach_,” you can see people sticking needles into their neck, hands, arms, legs and ears. In a place where drugs are cheap, addicts do not want to leave. They are offered treatment but refuse; many find it easier to be homeless since they get food, water and other necessities from people trying to do a good deed but others are frail and malnourished. The saddest part is families are searching for loved ones. Sometimes bodies go unclaimed and funerals proceed without the remains. People are memorialized all over the neighborhood, while families mourn their loss. Overall, Kensington needs to be nation-wide news. I urge anyone who reads this to research the neighborhood. While this crisis may take years to fix, I need to see more effort from local officials in Philadelphia. There is no excuse for Kensington to be the way it is at this very moment. Human life is valuable but their lives are not valued here. I hope to see some type of change soon. The first step is to raise awareness of the situation



Categories: Human Interest, Opinions

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3 replies

  1. Y’all talk about it but doesn’t do anything to help the community they give out needles and food to help support the addicts

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  2. Wow… You are right.. They dont spend enough time in that neighborhood.. Where they need to be. The cops down there watch them shoot up but don’t say or do anything. That’s the bad part

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  3. I seen this on YouTube videos and this is the most horrible thing that I have ever seen there is so many young people there that can just be a great part of society I seen a 29 year old girl she was so beautiful until she smiled it was like I was in a horror film she didn’t have a tooth in her head at 29 years old I’m 36 and got all my teeth she was about as big as round as a spaghetti noodle probably haven’t taken a bath in 5 years missing doesn’t care to get fixed I’ve been watching all these videos on y’all’s town and I’ve been utter tears cuz I have struggled with popping pills and I went through that I don’t do needles can’t stand them they scare me to death and where I live this will never happen you so much to walk out of the house or something that looks like a needle you will be arrested so fast that you won’t even know what hit you you say powder out loud anywhere around my house and you will be arrested kicked in by the DEA you better say baby powder I wish to God something will happen with this place that somebody will take care of these people because there’s so many people there that are talented and good that are able-bodied these are humans man it’s all they’re all like cattle like you’re beefing up the cattle for the next cooking it’s horrible I can’t believe this crap is going on it’s got me turnt bad I live in Alabama we have a sort of a meth crisis but around here if you start up a meth house within 3 days wherever you started at it’s just days or hours here your call you’re dead you’re locked up you’re done they’re hot on your trail within seconds that’s for the dealers ask for the addicts well they’re usually blown up in pieces on they’re locked up on the way to the dealer’s place so I hope somebody can do something for this place or I wish to God I could help because this is just so horrible it brings me to tears to see these people like this I pray for you people God have mercy on all their souls.

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