Parents, teachers and community members blocked traffic at Melnea Cass Boulevard and Albany Street after school let out this afternoon to demand even more action from the city to get needles and drug supplies out of the school playground and field.
As students held signs on the sidewalks, the adults walked into traffic, stopping traffic and showing drivers their signs. A number honked in support; others sped off in frustration after getting through.
Parents said whatever BPS and city public-health officials are doing to clean up the school grounds is not enough, not when the school is near the epicenter of Methadone Mile and the fields, with unlocked gates and holes cut in fences, provide an attractive place for addicts to shoot up, urinate and defecate.
They point to a student who got pricked by a needle last month as proof increased patrols of the fields and the presence of a box in which addicts can dispose of needles safely has simply not worked.
In a chaotic gathering inside the school, during which one official from BPS headquarters alternated between telling parents they had no right to be there without a permit and bellowing at TV-station cameramen to get out immediately, parents and activists said they want BPS to erect an eight-foot fence around the school playground and field to keep out the addicts.
"This is not going to stop," Janina Rackard, whose daughter is a fifth grader at the school, said of the protests. She vowed to return every week to block traffic until the problem is fixed.
"For my child to tell me she doesn't feel safe in her own school, I'm done," she said.
BPS Chief of Staff Rob Consalvo and activist Domingos DaRosa discuss whether the city is doing enough about the needles:
On a quick tour of the playground and field - on a day when officials said they had cleaned it up - DaRosa found ample evidence of ongoing drug use, including baggies and a tube that had held sterile water in a safe-injection kit given to addicts: