The numbers are startling. More than 100 confirmed overdoses and 84 people rushed to the hospital in a three-day span, all a result of the synthetic drug dubbed K2.
The K2 epidemic has most critically affected the Bedford-Stuyvesant area, prompting the National Action Network to hold a press conference Friday at one of the corners where they say the drug’s dangerous effects have been most evident.
Angered residents and community leaders blocked the entrance to the Big Boy Deli on Broadway and Myrtle Avenue, a place they say has sold the drug. But after the protestors refused to move, the police moved in, arresting demonstrators for blocking the entrance.
The deli owner was not available for comment to NY1, but according to those present, he denied selling the drug.
"He said that, 'We don't sell this stuff. We don't sell this stuff, it's not in our community.' And I said, 'That's a damn lie. You do sell this stuff. We know that you sell you. But you're not just selling it in the store,'" said the Rev. Kevin McCall of the National Action Network.
Residents refer to this area as the "zombie apocalypse" because K2 users are often seen laid out, stumbling or barely able to stand.
Police say more than three dozen arrests have been made in connection with its distribution and sale, but they say so called "runners" are still on the streets selling the drug, targetting residents in low-income areas.
"You got people who do not have the means to support themselves and being the distributor and thereby selling it, being the distributor and selling it to people in the community for less than five bucks," McCall said. "They're saying that they're not responsible, but they are responsible if they continue to allow to make a dollar off the backs of poor people."
The National Action Network says that this protest was the first step in fighting K2 sales, creating a new level of awareness. Police have promised added presence in the area but say they're trying to focus their efforts on finding distributors and stopping sales at the source.