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Deadly Labor Day: Tragic ODs on Both Coasts

deadly labor day

Deadly Labor Day: Tragic ODs on Both Coasts

By now you know that Labor Day 2021 wasn’t just any ordinary Labor Day, but it was a tragic and deadly Labor Day. No, not because of Covid. (Though of course there was that.) Not because of car crashes either. (Though of course there were those too.) No, this was tragic and deadly because of fentanyl. That’s right: fentanyl. The low cost, high risk drug additive that struck down high profile Americans on both coasts.

The East Coast greeted Monday with the death of the duly acclaimed Michael K. Williams. You might know Williams as either The Wire‘s Omar Little or Boardwalk Empire‘s Chalky White. You might know him from the other kickass characters he played in Alias or Six Degrees or Lovecraft Country. He was one of the most vivid actors in Boom TV. That’s saying something too, especially since Boom TV produced some of the most vivid actors ever to screen. Unfortunately, the very vivid Mr. Williams was found early Monday morning in his Williamsburg hi-rise apartment with what’s presumed to be heroin on a nearby table. Consequently his death is presumed to be due to an overdose. Considering Williams was no rookie to dope, we suspect he unknowingly ingested a fentanyl-laced batch.

The same inexcusable evil hit the West Coast, only differently. In the first place, the fentanyl-laced drug was cocaine rather than heroin. In the second, the batch affected an entire group of partying people rather than someone with a history of substance abuse. And these weren’t just any partying people either. They were some of the best and the brightest on L.A.’s ever-thriving comedy scene. We speak of comics Fuquan Johnson, 43, and Enrico Colangeli, 48, who were killed along with their friend, 33-year-old Natalie Williamson. Kate Quigley, another friend and comedian, also overdosed. Fortunately she was rushed to the hospital and is expected to pull through.

The four were at a Labor Day Weekend party along one of the picture-perfect Venice Beach canals. Just four talented Angelenos having a good time and not bothering another soul in the world. A bump or two later and three of them are dead. Dead. Just that quick. Makes absolutely no sense.

You Can’t Test This

Listen, we’re all for taking responsibility for your actions. If you hit the crack pipe for two or three days straight and then die of a heart attack, well, that might be sad, but it’s on you. Nobody put the proverbial gun to your head. If you drink yourself blind then drive into a wall, ditto. Only this time you don’t get our sympathy because you inexcusably put others at risk. That’s a big fat no-no under every circumstance. The point is, if you know the consequences and then are in some way forced to face them, tough luck.

But there’s no way of knowing the drugs you’re ingesting have been dosed with a deadly additive. No way whatsoever. Okay, so there is a fentanyl test kit. But few folks have it, let alone know how to use it. And those that do are generally day-to-day heroin users. In other words, they’re consciously participating in activities where fentanyl is likely to show up and prepare themselves accordingly. For those folks the test kit is a no-brainer.

But what about the average partygoer? Should they bring a test kit to the party? Should the host always have their own test kit on hand? If so, what should be tested? The alcohol? The hot dogs? The snacks? Isn’t there a risk someone slipped someone a Mickey or salted the chips with some strychnine?

Do we now need to whip out the test tubes before every meal? Before every drink? Before every aspirin? Of course not. The products we buy are expected to be safe. All the products.

This is Murder

We also can’t understand what makes a drug dealer so indiscriminately dose their drugs. We get wanting to have the most potent batch in town. But do you really want it to be potent enough to kill your customers? What’s that accomplish? Yeah, we know. Hardcore junkies are often known for seeking out the most overdose prone heroin on the streets. We also know they’ll travel far and wide in order to procure the most dangerous drugs around. But these weren’t hardcore junkies. They were people at a party. And they probably would’ve bought another half dozen 8-Balls off your sorry ass if you hadn’t killed them first.


We very rarely believe arrest is a good answer to the substance abuse issue. But this is one instance where we hope the cops track down and arrest the drug dealers tout de suite. We also hope the prosecutors throw the proverbial book at them — and then some. Dosing coke with fentanyl is basically the same as lacing whisky with strychnine. It’s using a lethal substance to boost the potency of what was a relatively harmless intoxicant purely in the interest of profit. And it’s murdering harmless people to boot. Yeah, you heard us. Murdering. Because slipping someone a fentanyl Mickey is nothing but unmitigated murder.

Johnson, Colangeli and their friends had no reason to suspect their cocaine would be laced with an opiate, let alone one as lethal as fentanyl. In fact, the thought likely never even crossed their minds. Why would it? They weren’t even doin’ opioids.

As for Williams, well, he’d been battling addiction for a long part of his life. He didn’t apologize or try to hide it either. In fact, he was as forthright and candid about his substance abuse as both Omar Little and Chalky White were about being who they were. And who they were meant to be. It’s obviously why those characters so ferociously jumped off the screen. They had Williams’ distinct and unequivocal veritas.

An Unduly Deadly Labor Day

Healing Properties believes there was no reason whatsoever for this unduly deadly Labor Day. None. And the lone reason that does exist makes absolutely no sense. Can someone really be greedy enough to kill their own business? Apparently, they can. Though we for the life of us cannot understand why.

In the meantime the world lost four bright and shining lives. Lives that were here illuminating everything they encountered, now dimmed for all eternity. Sure, we’ve got the footage. We’ve also got the memories. So some light will still slip through the cracks. But we don’t have the actual fixtures though. The four guiding beacons who graced our increasingly darkening sky. And that dear friends is heartbreaking.

How about you? Are you struggling with drugs? Planning on partying anytime soon? If so, please, please be careful. If you’ve gotta party, try getting your mitts on a test kit. Or at least make sure you’ve got Narcan on hand. Most big city addiction prevention programs will freely supply both. If you can’t get either, maybe just skip the risk. After all, it is your life we’re talking about. Give us a ring and we’ll sort you out.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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