Philadelphia’s open-air drug market — flooded with “slowly dying” drug users — is like “a third-world country,” a recovering heroin addict said Monday morning.
“What we see here on a daily basis is equivalent to a third-world country,” Frank Rodriguez, a former drug user-turned activist, said on Fox & Friends First. “You see bodies strewn on the floor.”
“You see people using out in the open,” he continued. “You see drug sales out in the open. You see a lot of suffering. You see a lot of pain.”
Rodriguez, born to drug addicts, moved to Philadelphia when he was a kid. He called Kensington, the neighborhood where he lived, an open-air drug market.
His Fox & Friends First appearance followed a Fox News Digital exclusive that featured Rodriguez as he toured Kensington.
“Imagine having to walk out of your house and walking over literally a body on your stoop,” Rodriguez said Monday. He added that drug users are “slowly dying.”
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It’s inevitable that children in the neighborhood will see addicts passed out on the sidewalks or even at the playground, according to Rodriguez.
“A lot of times, the parents will tell them ‘look, if you don’t make good decisions, that’s what’s gonna happen,’” he said. That “puts an ideal in the child’s head that an addict or somebody that’s homeless or suffering from mental health is sort of lesser-than them.”
Rodriguez said that mentality has enabled teenagers to attack addicts. In part, that’s why he started a mission to humanize them.
The activist abruptly left Kensington when he started his journey to get sober. But he still returns to give haircuts to addicts and to give them a platform to tell their stories.
“I’m just trying to make them feel, for the 15 minutes I spend with them … they’re not being judged, they’re not being shamed,” Rodriguez said. “They’re loved, they’re cared about and they have somebody to talk to who understands what they’re going through.”