Saturday, June 25, 2011

NOPD Continues to Target Sex Workers and Other Poor People

The Times-Picayune reported today on two large busts of sex workers under Louisiana's archaic "Crime Against Nature" law. These arrests come just as the Louisiana legislature has passed a bill that would do away with the law, which the US Justice Department has said unfairly targets LGBT individuals, as well as indigent women.

According to the Picayune:
New Orleans' narcotics and vice police units conducted a prostitution sting in Mid-City this month, and arrested nine people over two separate occasions . The New Orleans Police Department arrested four people (although "officers encountered seven individuals") at the Rose Motel, in the 3500 block of Tulane Avenue, June 15 for soliciting an undercover officer for crimes against nature. They also arrested five people (after "encountering" five) June 21 for the same crime at the same motel, said NOPD 1st District spokeswoman Melody Young.
These arrests come less than three weeks after another series of mass arrests of sex workers, in which a total of 51 people were arrested on prostitution or drug-related charges (and another similarly-timed mass arrest that saw 43 arrests in one 8th ward bar).

Is the NOPD trying to get in some last arrests under the Crime Against Nature law before it is struck down? Or trying to clean up their image with mass harassment of poor people (especially women) of color?

Update: On June 26, Jarvis DeBerry wrote a great opinion piece in the Times-Picayune in support of efforts to overturn the law.

Photo Above: Deon Haywood, of Women With A Vision, which has led the fight against the Crime Against Nature Law.


Anonymous said...


Nola Anarcha said...

Blog post about this:

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree that the Crime Against Nature designation is unjust, and also that police resources could be better used elsewhere.

However, I would hardly call this instance harassment since it was an undercover operation and those arrested approached the officers. No advocates for these women (and girls) would argue that they have a right to prostitute. While I believe that "mass harassment of poor people" is very real, it is unjust and irresponsible to attach them label to this particular instance.

Nola Anarcha said...

Ummm, I, and many sex workers themselves, would argue that they SHOULD have a right to be prostitutes. You think you can outlaw the world's oldest profession??? You think it is any better to be a stripper working for Larry Flynt, with no autonomy and a coke-head boss to answer to, than to do sex work for yourself???

As long as we have wage labor, we are all prostitutes selling our bodies to our bosses.

Anonymous said...

No I don't think that about strippers - and I agree that they should have a right to prostitute. But I was referring specifically to the article's description of this instance as "mass harassment of poor people."

Though I agree that mass harassment of poor people is real and true, I don't think it's applicable when people approach the police trying to break the law. Yes, they were "targeted" by the police just conducting the operation - but I don't think the facts of this case warrant the label of harassment.

I certainly agree that police resources could be better used elsewhere, but I felt it necessary to address that label. The truth is enough to shock and outrage people - and doesn't need further editorializing.

Nola Anarcha said...

It is harassment because they chose to do THAT SPECIFIC operation, as opposed to, say, fining a job site for worker safety violations, or doing stings with illegal workers to arrest employers who refuse to pay them at the end of jobs, etc...

It is harassment because they CHOSE to do that operation over other things they could have done.

Anonymous said...

Half the officers that arrest them also dangle freedom from imprisonment for sexual favors. It's the ultimate hypocracy. Unjust to attach the label of the harassment to these poor people? Last time I checked there aren't a lot of wealthy prostitutes on the streets of New Orleans.
Actually some pretty lofty congressmen, and other "civic leaders" have been seeing prostitutes for centuries. Maybe not street walkers but topless dancers will offer services in a back room for payment. If many other countries deem it legal, what makes us so special? I'm not saying woman (or men) should aim for that career but if they survive and can provide for a be it