Needle exchange demo, Trenton Statehouse, January 12, 1999


Mascouche , QC
Quebec CA
Sam Friedman

"You killed my father,"
the young woman screamed
into the microphone
as the crowd applauded her thought, her anger,
her truth,
just as they cheered the ex-user
who condemned New Jersey government
for denying needles
and starving treatment of funds,
and chanted
"Christy Whitman, you can't hide,
we charge you with

The day was warm for January,
since the weather gods had smiled
as we spoke our outrage
and the gray-uniformed cops
guarded the doors from the anger of hundreds
protesting state-sanctioned death
from the modern plague,

but in New Jersey,
it was business as usual:
two blocks away,
the governor proposed tax rebates for homeowners
to raving Republicans and Democrats
with welfare and drug treatment budgets as collateral
while Aetna was buying up health-care-for-profit,
ECCS laid off workers,
and the madness and fears of holding a job
grew more frenetic

and cops hunted junkies and the exchangers of needles
while viruses thrived like the owners of corporations
and politicians grinned before cameras
in this State denying needles,
bullish on death.
have the

For now.

In SR Friedman, Needles, drugs, and defiance: Poems to organize by, North American Syringe Exchange Network: 1999.