by Furry Girl

05.06.11

I'm late to mentioning the recent murders of sex workers in Long Island.  Honestly, sometimes I just don't have the spare emotional bandwidth to write about profoundly depressing things.

Audacia Ray sums up the Long Island situation on The Red Umbrella Project with a call to action that has been circulating widely in the last couple of weeks, which I'm re-posting here as a reminder/signal booster:

In the week leading up to December 17, 2010 – the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – the remains of four women who were killed while doing sex work were discovered on a beach in Long Island. Over the past two weeks, the remains of six more bodies have been found in the same area. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer has requested that anyone involved in the sex industry who may have information about the disappearance of colleagues come forward and share this information with the police. But there remains a rather large barrier: prostitution is criminalized, and sex workers have no guarantee that we will be protected from prosecution if we step forward. Therefore, we are calling for amnesty for all prostitution related offenses in Suffolk County until the killer is apprehended.

If you are a sex worker or an ally of sex workers, please contact the office of the Suffolk County Police Commissioner and District Attorney and make this request. The Police Commissioner has been speaking publicly about this issue, but the DA has the ultimate authority to grant amnesty. We especially need people who live in the New York City / Long Island area, especially Suffolk county, to make calls and send emails. In your request, you can feel free to personalize with information about your experiences or feelings about these cases.

Here is a sample letter, which can be emailed to SCPDINFO@suffolkcountyny.gov and infoda@suffolkcountyny.gov:

Dear Commissioner Dormer and District Attorney Spota,

I am a sex worker / ally to sex workers who lives in Suffolk County / the greater New York City area and I am writing to express concerns my community has about the lack of protection police are offering to sex workers. During this time of extreme anxiety following the discovery of the remains of at least 10 people, it is important for you to extend goodwill to our community.

We appreciate that you have invited sex workers to come forward with information that may help in the investigation of these crimes, but we are requesting that you formally establish amnesty for prostitution related offenses until the killer has been apprehended. Declaring amnesty would go a long way in demonstrating that the police are serious about prioritizing the lives of sex workers.

Sincerely,
NAME
Organizational affiliation (if any)
Email
City/state/zip code

Sample phone script - you can call (631) 852-2677 (SCPD) and (631) 852 – 2575 (DA’s Homicide Bureau):

Hello, I am a sex worker / ally to sex workers who lives in Suffolk County / the greater New York City area. I am calling to request that DA Spota formally establish amnesty for prostitution related offenses until the serial killer is apprehended. If the police motto is to protect and serve, you must work harder to extend this to sex workers.

The precedent: In 2006, when the “Suffolk Strangler” case was developing in Ipswich, England, the police department responded positively for a demand for amnesty put forth by the English Collective of Prostitutes. While the homicide investigations were underway, British police didn’t arrest sex workers. Here is a piece about the request, and a follow up piece in which Assistant Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer is quoted saying, “The welfare of the prostitutes working in Suffolk is my priority at this time.” Let’s put pressure on the nearer Suffolk county to respond similarly.

[Edited to add: I sent my own email after posting this, incorporating a suggestion from Sequoia Redd: asking for the amnesty for both sex workers and their clients.]





5 Comments

  1. Would sending an e-mail like this be helpful coming from those of us who don't live in the area?

    Comment by yb — May 6, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  2. YB: I live outside the area, and I sent an email. It never hurts, and it only takes about 30 seconds.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 6, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

  3. OK, maybe I'm pessimistic, but I have to agree with Brandy Devereaux on this issue: http://brandysbedroom.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/too-little-too-late/

    Unless accompanied by signed legal documents or a public proclamation from the governors of every state in that area, I would trust such an "amnesty" about as much as trust the cops to "just come in and have a look around". :-(

    Comment by Maggie McNeill — May 7, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  4. Hi Furry -- don't know if you spotted this (published 5/11/2011 in The Guardian online), but it addresses many of the same issues --

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/may/11/prostitution-women

    Maybe add a link? Regards --

    jwa13

    Comment by jwa13 — May 12, 2011 @ 1:04 am

  5. Maggie: I agree that it's not a perfect solution, but it takes less than a minute to fire off an email, so there's little harm in showing that there's support for amnesty. In the broader sense, it demonstrates that people all around the country and concerned about sex workers' safety.

    jwa13: I didn't blog about Melissa's Guardian piece, but if you follow myself or other sex workers on Twitter, it was circulated. I don't write blog pieces just to mention news items and articles, I use Twitter more for that sort of thing.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 19, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

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