Despite the persistent images of the Eifel Tower, fresh baguettes, and people riding Vespas everywhere, Paris, France has a massive problem just below the surface; crack cocaine.
Across the city in alleyways, sunken door frames, and in the gutter crack cocaine addicts are found smoking up, and leaving their shattered pipes, excrement, and trash behind them. As the 2024 Olympics begin the torch processional, organizers are trying to find a new place for these addicts to go. This scourge has existed in the city for years, but with officials only keeping them from being at the forefront of tourist destinations, many wonder what the city is going to do.
One of the chief concerns is if the city is just shuffling the problem into another part of the city/country, or if they are going to go toe-to-toe with the root cause. With a surge of arrests already underway, the mental and physical health problems of these addicts, along with a lack of affordable housing and jobs for them are just the start of the problems.
In the 18th and 19th arrondissements or districts, residents have been complaining of the open-air crack cocaine epidemic that has plagued their streets for years. True yin and yang to the southern part of the city kept nice for tourists, the police have long since ignored their cries for help. At the Porte de la Chapelle metro station as well as a tram stop across from a new area being built for the Olympics drug users are frequently and openly consuming their substance of choice.
Much like San Francisco, the city of Paris has let lawlessness and drug use run unchecked, and they focus their attention on giving them a hand out, and not a hand up. Hopefully, Paris can do what San Francisco won’t and tackles the problem head-on. If they don’t it’s likely going to be a long and possibly violent 2024 Olympics.