We have been told that the police have made 100’s of arrests in our area since June. As impressive as that sounds, you know what? The only number I care about is ZERO. Zero women standing on the corner selling themselves. Zero pimps parking on my street. Zero traffic from Johns. Zero used condoms in my yard. Zero girls getting beaten up. Zero children being robbed of their innocence. Zero attitude from my elected officials who somehow seem to think this is all an accepted part of living in South LA.
I have asked a pimp to please move his car because it was blocking my driveway. I have looked out my dining room window only to see a man getting oral sex in his car. I have stepped over used condoms to get into my vehicle and pulled condom wrappers out of my garden. I have been unable to sleep at night because ‘Johns’ keep driving around and around the block waiting for a prostitute to become available. I have seen women standing on the corner at 7am wearing long shirts or maybe very, very short dresses with no underwear while young children walk past them on the way to school. I have been awoken in the middle of the night by 2 pimps beating a 13-14 year old girl because she didn’t want to sell herself and “just wanted to go home!”
Now imagine this was happening outside of your house. Imagine the neighborhood children are your children. Imagine the elderly ladies who are afraid to go outside are your grandmothers. Imagine the 14 year old girl who is walking her dog and getting cruised by men looking to buy sex is your niece. Now imagine this wasn’t happening for one day or one week, but every day for over one year! How would you feel? What would you do?
Maybe your first thought is we need to move. Ask yourself who is going to buy a house with 4 prostitutes standing in front of it?
Maybe you think you would call the police, Vice, the police Watch Commander or Captain? When we first started calling the police they often wouldn’t show up even if we called multiple times. Prostitution is considered a low level crime, often referred to as a victimless crime, so if something more pressing like a murder or robbery is occurring the police do not respond.
Now that the police are more responsive, it still takes them about one hour to respond unless they already happen to be in the area. Vice has started conducting 1-2 stings a month in our neighborhood. Things are “improving” if you consider prostitution happening 3-4 nights a week instead of every night and 2 or 3 girls standing on the corner instead of 5 an improvement. The police are making an effort but it isn’t enough. They need the cooperation of the judges, lawmakers and City Attorney.
What about City Counsel? We had a community meeting with LAPD, Vice, City Attorney and representatives from Councilman Bernard Parks office about prostitution in June of this year. At that time it was recommended that the City trim trees and install brighter lighting or additional lighting. It is now September and the trees have not been trimmed. A representative of Bernard Parks confided that they haven’t trimmed the trees in our district in over 2 years. There is no additional lighting, although I was emailed a handy petition that I could get all my neighbors to sign stating that we would pay for the cost of the additional lights out of our own pockets each month! Keep in mind I live in one of the lowest personal income Districts in Los Angeles.
I am treated more as an annoyance than a person looking for leadership and help from my elected officials. The fact that Councilman Parks earns over 14k a month and does nothing about the street prostitution happening in our neighborhood makes me absolutely irate. Los Angeles City Council members are some of the highest paid in the country.
Why isn’t Parks working closely with LAPD and the City Attorney’s office to get tougher on pimps, Johns and prostitutes? Why isn’t he heading a Prostitution Task Force or think tank to come up with creative ideas to solve this problem? Why isn’t he doing ANYTHING except blocking the neighborhood twitter so he doesn’t have to be bothered with the problem?
Maybe you would think of getting more involved and trying to create a positive change? I contacted groups working to help women leave prostitution. One group wanted to come into the area one day a week with a Prostitution Diversion Program. The group is not moving forward at this time with their plan because they would have to get accredited by the City to work in our area, and jumping through the hoops required by the City is supposed to be a nightmare.
South Los Angeles has it’s own Prostitution Diversion Program run by the City Attorney’s office. This program is only available to first time offenders, which disqualifies the vast majority of women and men (our area also has male prostitutes) arrested for prostitution. Most prostitutes choose not to participate in the program because on average they spend only 1-2 days in jail, and are often released from jail in a matter of hours due to overcrowding.
The judges often sentence prostitutes to probation. When a woman can be serving six different probations at the same time for prostitution arrests, you have to wonder how did the system get this broken?
Why aren’t multiple offenders sentenced to a mandatory Prostitution Diversion Program or community service to be served in the community where they committed the crime? I would love for the pimps and Johns to come pick up the used condoms off my street instead of me. Who do you think cleans up the discarded, used condoms in front of our homes? The homeowners.
What is the answer? I have thought to myself a million times, “Can we please have a hooker-free night?”
One thing I know for sure, the chance of me sitting quietly by and turning a blind eye to what is happening? Absolutely zero.