Hundreds of Chico citizens show up for needle protest


A sign that reads, “Would u give a suicidal persona gun? Then why give an addict a syringe?

A deafening crowd of protesters clogged the sidewalk and steps around the Chico City Council chambers to show discontempt for the North Valley Harm Reduction Coalition on the corner of East Fourth and Main streets last Tuesday.  

The bulk of the protestors encouraged their elected officials to maintain the Sit and Lie ordinance and ban the NVHRC from utilizing a syringe distribution program. The program aims to help drug users safely dispose of unclean or used syringes and exchange for clean ones. However, Chico citizens expressed concern about an apparent increase in needles found across town.   

“Any program that thinks handing needles to drug users is going to help them or help our town, is crazy,” president of the Chico State College Republicans and Chico State Students for Trump Michael Curry said. 

 “We’re hoping that the programs get banned, there’s no reason for them; they’re immoral, unethical and a terrible thing to do, especially for people struggling with addiction,” Curry said.  “To give them the opportunity to go through with their vice, it’s really not a good plan for any human being to consider.”

The crowd supporting the ban was made up of local business owners and community members holding signs that read “Kids before needles,” “Kids lives matter,” “Business United for safety” and “Nobody is above the law, not even bums + junkies.” Most of the anti-needle distribution protestors wore fluorescent green shirts in solidarity for their cause. 

“Our waterways are being totally dissolved with debris and needles and it’s going to kill whatever goes downstream,” Chico resident of 72 years Patsy Stile said. 

Toward the stairs of the city council chambers on East Fourth Street was a smaller group of counter protestors who supported the NVHRC syringe access program. Their signs read “Public health is public safety,” and “I support evidence based research.” 

Lindsay Briggs, assistant professor at Chico State’s Public Health and Health Services Administration Department, was one of several speakers at the city council meeting. She spent her allotted two minutes making the argument that there is scientific data supporting the positives of the syringe program and that science should supplant the opinions of people who disagree. 

“My reason for being here and what I hope to accomplish is to ask policy makers to use evidence-based programs and interventions in their policies,” Briggs said outside after speaking to the council. “We shouldn’t give into the whims of hysterical people that are scared or people that are reacting. What we need to do is look at science and data.” 

The sit-lie ordinance, a municipal law which prohibits sitting or lying on the sidewalk or in other public spaces, was upheld Tuesday night by the city council. The syringe distribution program remains on the agenda.