Calling prostitution "a dangerous, violent crime," NOPD Police Chief Ronal Serpas announced today that New Orleans police had arrested 67 sex workers in the months of July and August in an undercover operation that also involved State Police, the FBI and the Secret Service.
Chief Serpas' official statements further demonized the sex workers, accusing them of nearly every crime short of terrorism. "We find time and time again that women and men who actively participate in prostitution tend to commit other crimes," claimed Serpas. "Such as some form of battery, simple robbery, armed robbery, illegal drug deals, or carrying concealed weapons. In some cases, customers of prostitutes find that their wallets have been lifted, which means bank card theft and sometimes stolen identity cases. This is why it’s an incredibly worthwhile effort to target people involved in the prostitution business."
But the men who solicit prostitutes are fine, upstanding citizens? Also, this is just lazy. How many open cases involving robbery, drugs, and weapons are sitting open on the books right now, unlikely to be solved by a few out of hundreds of sex workers being arrested? How about dealing with the fact that if you look at the rate of conviction in this city, murder and especially rape (a crime that sex workers are vulnerable to - I wonder how seriously the NOPD takes that violent crime when it's committed against a prostitute) are barely crimes. I could kill someone right now, do the bare minimum to cover it up, and I'm guessing that there would be about a 25% chance that I'd be arrested and convicted. I once had to call the police for a rape in progress (some asshole was raping a young woman on the porch across the street from my office. At 9am. Yeah.) Never saw a cop. If I ever see something like that again I'll just stab him with my switchblade, since I probably won't get caught anyway (another problem - cops don't give a damn when Black men are killed).
And I know why they're suddenly concerned about this issue. I get the crime alerts from the French Quarter district - tourists are soliciting "prostitutes" and getting ambushed and robbed. Of course, the alerts don't actually say that. I remember one from a few months ago where the victim met two (unknown) women - one black, one white - in Jackson Square. They headed somewhere to "hang out", he got into an SUV with them (remember, he just met these ladies), that was being driven by a man, and of course, after some dramatics involving a gun, ended up exiting the SUV a little while later sans wallet. He also, presumably, didn't get to be apart of that interracial threesome that he was after. Yes, he's a victim because they had no right to liberate his wallet, but ... really? He had intended to hire two women to engage in an illegal act with him. That makes him a criminal too, even if he was some middle class white tourist. Also, since fucking did not actually occur ... the ladies were not really sex workers anyway.
I guess what I'm saying is that even if some of these sex workers are connected to other crimes, this city has so many other more important crimes to deal with that effect whether or not people choose to live here. Yeah, a tourist who got tricked into getting robbed might not come back and the city loses money, but not as much money as it loses when people with middle and upper class incomes decided that they're aren't going to move here, or people who've been here for generations decided to pick up and leave because they can't guarantee that they're not going to get caught in a crossfire, or no one will take their daughter's rape seriously. I don't think those people are worried about being victimized by prostitutes.
Also, the oldest profession in the world is a "dangerous and violent crime"? Get the fuck out of here. Sex workers experience much more danger and violence than their Johns do.