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Satirical video highlighting drug epidemic in Kokomo creates controversy

Posted at 12:50 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 00:51:02-04

KOKOMO — The creators of a now-removed Facebook video say it was supposed to use humor to draw attention to a serious issue. But the video called “The Top 5 Places to Overdose in Kokomo,” was shared hundreds of times by people who were more outraged than amused.

Kokomo residents facing addiction who spoke with WRTV said this satire went too far.

“Sickening, they went totally the wrong way about that,” Greg Francis, a father and business owner in Kokomo, said.

Francis is very familiar with the addiction battle. He is 44 and has overdosed three times as a former meth addict and dealer.

“It's a struggle for a lot of people,” Francis said. “Seeing the video I seen yesterday it's heartbreaking to see that people think they are trying to help people, there was not help in that video whatsoever. It was basically slamming people who struggle with life, who struggle with everyday addiction.”

The video, which WRTV has chosen not to share, that has Francis and other recovering addicts concerned about the message the creators are putting out there.

“The whole idea was that it was supposed to be embellished, it was supposed to be outlandish, it was supposed to be thought-provoking and it was supposed to be satirical in nature,” Jordan Grainger, one of the creators of the controversial video, said. “It is hard to argue with the fact that they are saying this is messed up because that is the point, the point is that it is messed up and we wanted people to talk.”

The Facebook page called “The Kokomo Press” is run by Kokomo residents Jordan Grainger and Brian West. They post satirical content about issues facing their community.

“Sometimes we think the way that we do things is obvious and sometimes that doesn't reach like we want to, people don't get where we are coming from,” Grainger said. “They are beautifying downtown, they created a new riverwalk, there is a new Hilton coming downtown. They are building all this stuff, there is a lot of great things coming to Kokomo, but we feel like what is swept under the rug is the truth, which is the poor people and the people that are destitute and the people who are actually dealing every day with you know the aftermath of the opioid crisis.”

Grainger and West said they wanted the video to point out that more needs to be done to solve the drug epidemic in Kokomo.

“We have our own experience with addiction, the whole point was to raise awareness, we probably could have done a better job at the end of really conveying our actual feelings,” Grainger said.

But those who work directly with addicts hoping for a path to recovery say this kind of video sends the wrong message to those already struggling.

“It definitely minimizes and trivializes overdoses and drug addiction and drug usage,” Kevin Sprinkle, a recovering addict who runs a recovery group, said. “When someone does this, they make a mockery of it and they also are the same ones that are saying Kokomo has a drug problem, this problem is out of control, these guys need to do this and do this, but in reality, they are saying that at one side but laughing at it on the other side. These people's lives matter and these overdoses and these problems are real people.”

Sprinkle is currently running an online recovery group in Kokomo called “Sobriety Lounge.” He says addiction is no laughing matter and there are more productive ways to make a change in an addict’s life.

“People need to realize that we need to put our arms around people who have these issues and say how can we help and the best way we can help is acceptance and love and help them to realize that they matter, they have value.,” states Sprinkle.

According to Grainger and West, Facebook took down the video Wednesday, two days after it was posted on their page because so many users reported it.

“The Kokomo Press” has posted many times in the last day, including a flyer for an event benefiting Turning Point.

Resources for addicts and recovery:

Turning Point - https://www.facebook.com/TurningPointSOC/

Sobriety Lounge - https://www.facebook.com/Sobriety-Lounge-100685018279073

Ship Happens - https://www.facebook.com/ShipHappens-A-zero-barrier-access-point-to-Naloxone-110900593579375

Indiana Recovery Network - https://www.indianarecoverynetwork.org/wapps/org/supplier/list