An all-day “Lost Voices of Fentanyl” rally was held here September 23 to bring attention to the ongoing and escalating Fentanyl crisis that according to government statistics is the leading cause of deaths of those in the 18-45 age group in the U.S.
The morning rally began at the Washington Monument and later in the afternoon participants marched to the White House calling on President Biden to take immediate and forceful action to end this national tragedy by cutting off the flow of drugs into the U.S.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that “In 2022, provisional data indicated that more than two thirds (68%) of the reported 107,081 drug overdose deaths in the United States involved synthetic opioids other than methadone, principally illicitly manufactured Fentanyls (IMFs).”
Families, friends and loved ones of victims held this their third annual rally in continuing to educate the public in bringing awareness of illicit fentanyl poisonings in hopes of preventing further deaths while calling on President Biden and his administration to do more in ending the crisis.
The illegally manufactured synthetic opioids whose precursors are smuggled into Mexico from India and China are used by drug cartels who manufacture and distribute it across the country. A great deal of the illicit drugs are also purchased on the dark web from overseas dealers who have a wide variety of offerings just a click away.
Many of the victims purchased and took pills costing $2 to $3 each they thought were other illicit drugs or pain killers but instead consumed those laced with Fentanyl that has been found in heroin, meth, cocaine and marijuana to drive addiction. The drug is so powerful that even a tiny amount ingested can result in death.
The fake pills along with the recent introduction of fake gummy candies that has now been added to the mix to lure youth into drug use. Several protesters at the White House handed out information cards warning of the dangers of such insidious tactics to inform the public of the threat by identifying what a person should be aware of. The card also shows examples of real and the fake pressed pills in comparison. Such is the threat that the information card simply states that universally “All street drugs are contaminated.”
One protester expressed this by holding a sign that warned “Synthetic drugs are Weapons of Mass Destruction” as the statistics have shown. While others at the White House rally held photos of their loved ones who have been killed by Fentanyl and were open with the public in telling their own stories of their loss. Many of the victims died by accidental overdose unaware of what danger they had encountered through their purchases of the illicit street drugs.
Two ladies, a mother and daughter, each held the remains of their sons as a stark visual reminder of their grief and sorrow that as survivors they have had to endure in the aftermath of their loved ones’ untimely deaths. More recently a 1-year-old boy died and three other children were injured in a New York City day care center that doubled as a Fentanyl distribution center when the children were exposed to the drug that was haphazardly strewn about.
Another protester held a large banner titled “California Drug Epidemic Memorial a virtual national wall honoring our loved ones.” On it are 135 portraits of victims who have died during the crisis.
After calling attention to their crusade and chanting to implore Biden to take significant action, many of those demonstrating at the behest of an organizer faced the White House and hoisted their hands high to give him the middle finger as an act of extreme disrespect to make sure he and his administration got the message to act now.
While their frustration is palpable, the group promised to continue to take whatever action they can in the memory of their loved ones so that others can be saved from a similar fate.
Photo by Phil Pasquini
(This article has appeared in Nuzeink)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.
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