Progressive Groups Protest State Senator’s Drug Comments in Bay Ridge

Progressive Groups Protest State Senator’s Drug Comments in Bay Ridge
State Senator Marty Golden has been under fire for comments he made regarding the opioid epidemic (Photo: NYS Senate)

BAY RIDGE – In response to State Senator Marty Golden’s racist comments about the opioid epidemic made last week, a group of local progressive politicians and community activists protested outside the Senator’s district office in Bay Ridge today.

In an email announcement over the weekend, both Democrats making a challenge to Golden’s 22nd District seat this year—Ross Barkan and Andrew Gounardes—along with community groups decried Golden’s comments, which asserted that painkillers were a serious threat because they were killing “doctor’s kids,” and weren’t a “ghetto drug.”

“Golden’s comments demonstrated his willingness to prioritize the health and well-being of ‘doctors’ kids’ in upper-class communities over the longstanding challenges facing low-income New Yorkers struggling with drug addiction in communities of color. After initially refusing to apologize following widespread outrage, Golden later released a half-hearted apology to ‘anyone who was offended,’ further demonstrating his inability to understand why his comments were so racist and dismissive of communities of color,” read the statement.

Barkan took to Twitter today, posting a picture of the event:

Aside from criticizing Senator Golden’s comments—for which he has since apologized—the organizers made clear they were fighting for change in the way the city responds to the opioid crisis, and not just a change in State Senator.

Andrew Gounardes had also prepared a statement condemning the Senator’s remarks:

“Marty Golden’s comments about that the opioid crisis deserves our attention because they are not ‘ghetto drugs’ were deeply offensive and divisive.

“First, his comments stigmatize those who are afflicted and suggest that some lives are more worth saving than others. Ask any treatment professional or spiritual counselor – the battle against addiction is just not physiological – it is psychological. Patients need to believe not just that their lives can get better, but that their lives are worth saving in the first place.

“Second, whether intentional or not, Marty Golden’s words reflect outdated racist tropes about drug abuse in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.”

“Aside from protesting Golden’s racist comments and terrible drug policy record, advocates will discuss the need for additional city, state and federal funding for drug treatment and social service providers in low-income communities of color, to ensure struggling New Yorkers have fair access to services that help them overcome addiction and gain educational and career opportunities,” read the announcement.

Before the protest, Senator Golden used Twitter to denounce those organizing the rally as “fringe groups” that were generating “uninformed criticism,” even referring to Bay Ridge for Social Justice’s post as “insurgent.”

Along with Golden’s Democratic challengers, a number of community groups helped sponsor the event, including the Drug Policy Alliance, Alliance for Quality Education, Working Families Party, New York Progressive Action Network, Bay Ridge for Social Justice, Fight Back Bay Ridge, and the South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance.

At the end of last year, Golden was also under fire in the media for allegedly impersonating a police officer and harassing a cyclist—an incident that shed light on the politicians troubled history with traffic laws, including the death of a senior citizen he struck with his car in 2005.

Primaries for the 2018 State Senate election will be held on September 11. Currently, State Senator Golden has a distinct fundraising advantage over both his potential challengers.

Update (6:15 pm): The story has been updated to include remarks from Andrew Gounardes.

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