Covid-19 and cages on Boston’s Methadone Mile

Just before all hell broke loose in Minnesota and Kentucky, I happened upon a story shared by a friend and done by Turtle Boy Daily News that said homeless people on Methadone Mile were being locked into a cage. I saw the pictures, but I still couldn’t believe it. Even knowing that I was at high risk for COVID-19, I decided to go down there to see it for myself. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got there. It was indeed a cage, which now had black mesh around it. Now that the story had gotten out, the mesh was a waste of time, as you could still see inside. It was pretty packed inside, and people were openly getting high. There were no masks and no one was social distancing that I could see. There were rumors that dealers were allowed in the cage; I didn’t get out of the car, so I could not verify that. I also discovered that people are not locked in the cage but are allowed to come and go as they please. As a matter of fact the cage is locked at 5 p.m., so folks can go anywhere they want. This is a non-story, right? 

Wrong. Remember no one in that cage was wearing a mask, no one in that cage was practicing social distancing.

Were people being given hand sanitizer? Were people being tested regularly? Were temps being taken?

Was anyone who came up with this idea thinking about anything? Clearly the answer is no. 

First, these people were gathered in a cage during the day without any way of knowing if they’ve contracted COVID-19. Then, you lock them out of the cage so they can go anywhere, so they can walk around untreated and die and maybe even infect others in the process. Is anyone questioning this? Is anyone responding to this?

I reached out to the Boston Department of Public Health who oversees the shelters in the city but got no

response. Other folks I spoke with said they also reached out to the City and they also received no response — busy patting themselves on the back for their response to homelessness during the virus? 

And, per usual, mainstream media is helping with these pity stories. Not one written word about the cage on the Mile. Not one. Nothing from the City Council, most of whom drive by there every day — they don’t see it? 

And where are the activist voices, the ones who come out and beat their chest at every perceived slight — where are they? Heck, I had a couple people who tried to defend the city, saying it’s doing a great job and the cage was a safe place. I’m not making any friends saying this but: you can’t yell and scream that someone’s the enemy and then coddle them at the same time. 

Yes, there have been some instances where the City has come through for the homeless during this crisis. This cage nullifies all that good will. Who do you think will be blamed if there is an outbreak in the area? The City? The State? The Press? The Activists? No, the homeless people from the cage on the Mile will be blamed. 

There should be outrage, but maybe that won’t happen at all, the outrage. The people in that area are the City’s poorest, many black and brown. There may be no outrage at all.

Photo is of the area of the cage. 

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

Top