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ID: 317

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Drug Consumption Rooms/Safer Injecting Facilities; Harm Reduction Advocacy and Activism

Presenting author: Patricia Sully

Presenting author biography:

Patricia Sully is a staff attorney for the Public Defender Association and coordinates VOCAL-WA in Seattle, Washington. When she is not in the office, she can often be found protesting in the streets.

Seattle's Fight for Safer Consumption Spaces: City, County, and Community Advocacy

Patricia Sully

VOCAL-WA launched the campaign for supervised/safer consumption spaces in November of 2015. Since the launch of the campaign, the movement has caught considerable attention and gained significant political ground, leading many to speculate that Seattle with be the first city in the United States of America to open to above ground, sanctioned supervised/safer consumption spaces.

The campaign in Seattle has been multi-pronged, with a specific and intentional focus on public education as well as working within the city and county systems to gain political support. As a result of this, the campaign has resisted suggestions to move ‘under the radar’ and instead have pushed for broad public engagement through media, public events, and other means. This has occurred in part as an explicit response to emerging local and national narratives about drug policy and addiction that often draw from the reform movement in a superficial manner laden with racist and classist undertones. The Seattle campaign is, consequently, as much about expanding the scope of compassion and dignity for people who use drugs as they are about authorizing a public health interventions.

Patricia Sully will present on the development of the Seattle campaign and #YesToSCS coalition with a focus on community organizing efforts among people who use drugs through VOCAL-WA, and how that has informed campaign strategy and particularly framing for the media and elected officials, as well as the development of the VOCAL Washington community organizing project as a necessary addition to a longstanding legal advocacy and racial justice organization, and its relationship to the emergence of Seattle’s safer consumption campaign. Our expectation is that our colleagues in other cities will also be submitting abstracts, and that this presentations will be part of a larger panel on safer consumption spaces / SIFs.