Philadelphians occupied one lane of Kensington Avenue as they marched to McPherson Square in Kensington on Tuesday to honor those who have lost their lives to drug addiction.
The crowd walked united in their efforts to reduce deaths and supply those suffering from addiction with aid and recovery methods. Upon reaching McPherson Square, the many voices turned to only one — with a person holding a megaphone reading off the more than 1,000 names of people who have died in Philadelphia in the past year due to drug addiction.
Roz Pichardo, a community advocate who does outreach work through Operation Save Our City, led the march. She said while hearts are heavy, the awareness brought to the issue unites many.
“I think it’s just so important that we recognize not only the folks that we’ve lost, but you know, celebrate people who are still here who are struggling with addiction,” Pichardo said. “So we’re just going to do everything we can to keep people alive.”
According to the Philadelphia Health Department, 1,413 people died from drug overdoses in the city last year, the highest number ever recorded. In 2021, 1,276 people died from drug overdoses.
Britt Carpenter has survived five overdoses and now does recovery outreach work with the Philly Unknown Project. He said people can play a role in reducing the opioid death toll in Philadelphia.
“They’ve got to go out there and get trained on using Narcan,” Carpenter said. “They got to get out there and connect with organizations that are doing the work on the streets and come on out and help us volunteer out here. We need all the help we can get, we need all the hands we can get. This is a we thing, not a me thing.”