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Thousands of voices shouting "Support. Don't Punish" shook the Rambla del Raval.

04/07/2024| Publications
By Sophia Vargas

On Wednesday, June 26, Metzineres shouted "Support. Don't Punish," as part of the Global Day of Action "Support Don't Punish." This is how the Rambla del Raval became a vibrant scene of resistance and solidarity where drug users advocated for more humane policies focused on public health and human rights instead of criminalization and punishment.

Early in the morning, Metzineres, along with the Catalan Network of People Who Use Drugs (CATNPUD), the Network of Feminist Antiprohibitionists in the Field of Drugs (REMA), the Ámbit Prevenció Foundation, ABD, and the Network of Women Who Use Drugs (XADUD), gathered to make our message visible: prohibition only serves to punish, stigmatize, and penalize those of us who use drugs, perpetuating various forms of violence on our bodies and our lives, fostering exclusion that leaves us on the margins of society and without our rights.

The activities began with a warm welcome from the neighbors of the Raval neighborhood, who joined in various actions, such as the gymkhana, which consisted of recreational activities involving the community in crucial issues such as antiprohibitionism, institutional violence, sex work, drug use, and the situation of homeless people.

One of the most outstanding activities was the painting of a collective mural, where messages and symbols of resistance and support for people who use drugs and live with HIV/AIDS were captured. The famous mural located at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), "Together We Can Stop AIDS" by artist Keith Haring, was collectively replicated. This iconic artwork conveys a powerful message of unity and collective action, symbolizing the capacity to unite and face challenges together.

Meanwhile, a live radio broadcast gave us the opportunity to learn about the history of prohibitionism in Barcelona. The controversial Plan Endreça, promoted by the city's public administration, was also discussed, and the negative impact it has on homeless people and drug users, as its measures expose them to more situations of vulnerability and violence.

The radio also served as a platform for the voices of those who have been marginalized to be heard loud and clear. A trans, queer, and bisexual comedian hosted the event, filling the atmosphere with laughter and reinforcing the spirit of inclusion.

The fact that this event took place in a public space had profound significance because the people who are usually on the margins of society occupied the Rambla del Raval, making visible that we deserve and can occupy these spaces, enjoying and expressing ourselves freely without stigma, weaving ties with the community. The neighborhood's response was very positive.

The day concluded with the conviction that together we can achieve real and significant change to end the criminalization, stigmatization, and violent policies and practices against our communities. As well as ensuring reparation and building a world where the structural causes of exclusion are eliminated and where all people have the right to a full, dignified, and violence-free life.

The global "Support Don't Punish" day has been held for more than a decade. Since then, it has empowered a global and decentralized network of change agents in drug policy and Harm Reduction.

Photographs: Andre Gaetano, Metzineres Photographer.