“It’s bad public health, it’s bad social policy.” — Cyndee Clay, exec. director of HIPS
An excerpt of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance testimony on making the Protitution Free Zones Permanent:
The Metropolitan Police Department’s current use of Prostitution Free Zones (or PFZs) facilitates discriminatory police profiling of transgender people. Making PFZs permanent, as this bill would do, would exacerbate the problem. It would also amount to doubling down on a constitutionally questionable practice.
“‘It’s bad public health, it’s bad social policy,’ says [Cyndee] Clay. ‘It’s not even effective judicial policy because we’re not giving people the tools that they need to change their life or to make a change. We’re just re-incarcerating the same people over and over again for the same thing.’ …
“HIPS keeps track of every sex worker it encounters, and the group is seeing roughly the same number of sex workers on the streets now as there was a decade ago. The difference is now they’re more likely to get a criminal record and more likely to be working in a violent area. The sex workers are more isolated and more at risk. But they’re less visible.”
Councilmember Alexander responded to David Schultz, the WAMU reporter, in an exchange on Twitter on January 17. She wrote, “Prostitution is illegal and our residents as well as PG are fed up!” Jason Terry of DC Trans Coalition replied, “I appreciate your ire, but why not tackle the roots of injustice instead the symptoms?” Councilmember Alexander replied, “I’m supportive of that too, but how do you answer my communities’ frustration? Come with me to Eastern Ave.”
We have been to Eastern Avenue. Last July, many of us had occasion to visit that neighborhood to attend a vigil in memory of Lashai Mclean, a transgender woman who was murdered on the 6100 block of Dix Street NE. Like Jason Terry, I appreciate Councilmember Alexander’s frustration. Like him, I think we need to respond to that frustration with real solutions rather than merely chasing sex workers to different streetcorners.
Sign our petition:
Vote against making DC’s “Prostitution Free Zones” permanent.
The D.C. Council is currently considering the “Prostitution Free Zone Amendment Act,” which will affect sex workers, or anyone thought to be a sex worker. This new bill builds off the “Prostitution Free Zone Act of 2005,” which allowed the police to declare any public area a “Prostitution free Zone,” for up to 20 days — the new bill proposes to make such zones permanent.
These policies have done little to eradicate prostitution but have succeeded in further marginalizing sex workers, low income people of color, transgender people, lesbians and gays, and the homeless. In addition, making the Prostitution Free Zones permanent would likely be unconstitutional.
We do not need more policy that criminalizes people in our community. D.C. residents demand that the Council find solutions to city issues that don’t involve arresting and locking people up because they are homeless, transgender, or “look like” they are engaging in sex work.
Please make the right choice and vote against making the PFZ’s permanent.
Sign your name digitally to this letter and send it to the DC City Council here: #mce_temp_url#