It has been a while but last night I saw on the news that Prince George’s County, a nearby county here in Washington D.C. was alerting the community they were going to conduct a “sting operation”. Their public stance is that are targeting the “John’s and then live tweet their full names along their mug-shots under the hashtag “#PGPDVice”.
I am under the impression nothing but a public PR campaign by a county, historically viewed for its high violent crime rate and perceived view the local PD is unwilling and unable to do their job to “protect and serve” their local community.
This “live tweeting” is just another example of a local police department stigmatizing and terrorizing a part of the population they say they are attempting to protect. They are under the mentality and understanding targeting sex-workers and their customers will cause their perceived to just vanish. The demand will just dry up.
When will police departments figure out, these types of actions place the very people they say they are protecting, Individuals who are forced by others either through threats of abuse or kidnapping to non-consensually participate in the sex-work industry in more danger? These sting operations places an aura of stigma and shame which prevents the individuals best placed to report an unsafe work environment and working conditions.
This idea these sting operations causing more damage is best illustrated by the Executive Director of HIPS (www.Twitter.com/HIPSDC) Cyndee Clay, when she stated that these type of sting operations place “Sex workers who are being abused or are stuck in a sex trafficking operation may be less likely (or able) to turn to police out of fear; similarly a client of a sex-worker will be less likely to report abuse to the proper authorities they too will be arrested.”
These local police departments need to think about the situation differently. The thought arresting someone is equal to “saving someone”. Who is going to save a waitress or someone in the food service industry from their sub-minimum wage jobs and the abuse from many of these people experience at the hands of untrained and ill-equipped managers who over-work and abuse them?
I feel the sex work industry should be considered a legitimate job, free of oppression and prosecution. Both the workers and customers of this industry should have the “right” to be safe and report acts of abuse and violence free of prosecution.
What also should be noted is the reasons given by the Prince George’s County Police Department why they are going to conduct the raid in the manner they are with “live tweeting” the arrests. According to their spokesperson Julie Parker they are going to Twitter for safety and transparency since most of what the “agency does is behind the scenes and the community is really intrigued by that work.”
Now I pose the following question to @PGPDNews ”What happened to due process? It has been my understanding a person is considered innocent before they are guilty? That is why we have a court system. That is why the news media has to say a suspect is alleged of a crime no matter how damning the evidence is against them.”
The PGPD do not take serious the need of public safety, and those needs should extend to everyone within the county. Hell, even Ms. Parker stated they are only publicly Tweeting this sting to quench the thirst of a community.
PGPD why not place efforts to lowering other crimes? According to MD crime states, PG County latest stats (2012) there were 4,946 violent crimes, 173 rapes, 31,126 property crimes and 19,988 aggravated assaults reported.
As this is election year, I recommend everyone to seek-out and support local organizations, like HIPS, which offered support to the local sex-worker community. HIPS’ mission is to support the rights and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. They provide compassionate harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms while honoring the individual power.
They also believe those engaged in sex work, sex trade, and drug use should be able to live healthy, self-determined, and self-sufficient lives free from stigma, violence, criminalization or oppression. HIPS also actively engaging sex workers, drug users and the communities in challenging structural barriers to health, safety, and prosperity.
Follow the link below to see review HIPS’ mission and see how you may be able to support them and their mission to help so many.
EVERYONE deserves to live free of SHAME, PROSICUTION and FEAR. Inclusion and judgment-free access to medical educational services are ALL essential and a fundamental HUMAN RIGHTS.