Tuesday, November 10, 2015
OPEN LETTER TO CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE
Sex Workers Anonymous (Formerly Prostitutes Anonymous
(702) 468-4529 Telephone
November 10, 2015
Dear Assembly Committee on Public Safety:
If I had known about the meeting on human trafficking held on October 20, 2015, I want you to know I would have attended. But I was not invited because I'm assuming people in this field who are aware of who I am also in respect to this field probably think I am still living in Nevada where I've been since 1996. However, because of calls I've been receiving from the members of Sex Workers Anonymous, the 12 step program I founded in 1987 about what they've been seeing happening in California, at their request and urging, I've relocated back home to Los Angeles where our program, and the modern day sex trafficking movement itself, was launched. Basically the members have been wanting me back here to speak and appear for them on some of these issues in ways they can't without “violating their anonymity”. So here I am.
For those of you who have no idea who I am, or why I'm writing you about this, please allow me to familiarize you. Then you'll understand why I'm asking to please be invited to any future events, workshops, panels, etc., being held on the subject of prostitution, sex work, and/or sex trafficking, to represent myself as a survivor who has been in recovery since 1985 continuously, as well as the members of our “anonymous” program.
BACKGROUND & HISTORY
To put things into context, if you go back to the 1980's, it was a time when America didn't even believe sex trafficking was even real nor existed any longer – thinking it had gone the way of “white slavery” and the “Barbary Coast”. The sex industry, and the sexual revolution were very connected at this time – being celebrated in major and popular media even. The “Happy Hooker was a book by a famous hooker on the NY Best Seller list, the “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” was a film starring Dolly Parton which was then even turned into a Broadway musical.
To show how the world viewed the idea of sex trafficking back in the early 80's - Linda Lovelace, the largest porn star of the time, released her book “Ordeal” in 1980. This confession revealed she had been sex trafficked during the filming of “Deep Throat”. This was the first adult film to go from a back alley super 8 theater to a mainstream theater. The American public completely refused to believe her. The porn industry discounted her story entirely claiming it was “professional jealousy” now her manager (who she claimed was her pimp) had gone on to instead manage Marilyn Chambers.
Such was the climate I was in while being surrounded by many different forms of sex trafficking. I say that because there are many different types of trafficking. Some however require extracting the victim from the situation and putting them into a highly secure “safe house” where the pimp can't retrieve them. Some will show up at the shelter, house, or location of the victim heavily armed. AK47's were popular in the 80's with some of these pimps and there literally were no options for them to escape.
Because there were other problems raging in Los Angeles in the 1980's. First, we had a record number of serial killers targeting prostitutes. Everyone from the Grim Reaper, to the Green River Killer and the Hillside Strangler just to name three. Second, HIV/AIDS was spreading like wildfire without anyone really quite knowing the method of transmission. So there was a lot of fear then of contracting the virus. Third, we had Iran Contra going on then meaning southern California was being flooded with cocaine while the gangs were being blamed. The crack epidemic was causing women to be standing 10 deep in red light districts to the point where they'd be blocking traffic. The police were having weekly “sweeps” where they would be taking buses out to these zones and just packing them full of prostitutes who'd then be on the streets again three hours later. Fourth, drug treatment centers and shelters were refusing to admit prostitutes for fear of either their pimps coming to retrieve them to put them back “to work” or fear of contracting the virus. Even guards in the jails were walking off the job in fear of going anywhere near a prostitute and catching HIV/AIDS.
All of this was causing the budget to explode as a record number of prostitutes were being incarcerated. No existing programs, counselors, churches, etc., seemed to have any impact on the issue – the minute the prostitutes were released they were being re-arrested just hours later. Pimps were actually waiting at the “bottom of the hill” at Sybil Brand for the prostitutes to be released. If I called the police to help out with a trafficking situation – the police's response was to laugh and hang up the phone. As for the mental health community – when I'd try to speak about what I was witnessing they would literally start to lock me up for “observation” on the grounds I “must be hallucinating” because “things like that just don't happen in today's world”.
So where do you turn when no one even believes something is real? Worst yet when the outside world is viewing these women as either “criminals” or “deviants” “junkies”, “crackheads” or just plain worthless. Mothers of African American women being murdered and dumped like trash at dumpsters even took to the streets to protest how LAPD was doing nothing to investigate these womens' murders – and still nothing was being done nor changed. We were being hunted and we were disposable.
The first adult “safe house” was a warehouse I rented next to the Van Nuys police station I installed with iron bars, CCTV surveillance, gates, and even armed security. A pimp angry he couldn't retrieve his victim from the warehouse called in an “anonymous tip” to the police in 1984 that my warehouse was a “brothel” setting off my arrest you can read about at www.hightechmadam.com The charges were dismissed as this was clearly not a brothel once clearly examined, and the woman was questioned. In fact, she testified against this pimp and put him and three other drug dealers behind bars.
Once the dust settled, I installed the first national 800 hotline for adults who needed help to leave any part of the sex industry for any reason. Clearly I didn't want to repeat what happened at the warehouse – but I wanted to still do what I could to provide help to adults (Children of the Night was taking in those under 18 years of age into their residential program and she set up a hotline for teens to call who were prostitutes because even they were being refused at other shelters and programs which existed back then for “runaways”). We offered help to anyone – male, female or transgender – any age – any religion or lack of religion – from any part of sex work whether it be stripping, porn, prostitution, etc., and whether trafficked or not. If someone wanted help to exit the sex industry for any reason – we couldn't turn anyone away because literally NOTHING ELSE EXISTED. There were no options.
I had met Edwin Meese because of his work on the “Meese Report” studying the harmful effects of pornography at the time. When Linda Lovelace had released her book – she partnered with Edwin, and others, to campaign to ban pornography. Her premise was if there wasn't a demand for her “services” then she wouldn't been trafficked. This opened up our dialogue while he was the Attorney General for California. He also was a witness to what was going on with respect to Iran Contra and the sex trafficking going on “hand in hand” with drug trafficking rhat was flooding the country in the 1980's. I asked him what could be done to stop the arrest of these victims who were being three times penalized – first by being trafficked, second by being refused assistance by the police, social services, drug treatment, etc., because of being viewed as a criminal, and then third by being arrested and jailed as a criminal for doing what they were being forced to do against their will in the first place.
He told me it could be 100 years before we'd ever see the laws change significantly enough to even recognize sex trafficking as real, let alone change enough to stop arresting male and female prostitutes who were not criminals. Up until then we could set up “alternative to sentencing” by creating a 12 step program and offering it under the same umbrella as AA and NA had been doing for the addict and alcoholic who were also finding themselves in court because of needing help rather than incarceration.
Hence Prostitutes Anonymous AND the modern day sex trafficking movement demanding this issue be recognized, along with demanding this country create systems to address this problem, was born. We renamed ourselves to Sex Workers Anonymous in 1995 because of the birth of the internet and the fact one could be “trafficked” without having physical contact with the client. We did this after a case we got involved in with a webcam operation in Russia. The victims had been literally locked in a room for a year, drugged, and kept in that room with their microphones off and then marketed. Recognizing these women were victims without being prostitutes, and because adult filters kept blocking the word “prostitute” meaning people needing help couldn't find us – we changed our name.
The first alternative sentencing meetings were set up in Los Angeles in 1987 for transgenders at first because of an overcrowding situation at the mens' jail. Back then they were housing them in the day room because of a lack of proper beds. Then came pregnant and HIV positive women, and so on. The program was so successful we were asked to come help set up the Program for Female Offenders in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1989. Then to set up SPACE in Vancouver, Canada in 1991. In 1994, alternative sentencing was set up through Second Chance in Ohio, and on until we were a part of Project Rose in Arizona and Division 17 in Chicago.
Federal recognition of sex trafficking being “real” and happening in modern day times was achieved with the passing of the Trafficking Act in 2000. If not for 13 years of our survivors going on TV telling their stories to convince America this was in fact true, current, and happening on US soil to US citizens – then it's doubtful it would have come to pass otherwise. We suffered significant sacrifices and losses in order to stand up publicly at a time when we were viewed as “criminals”, “disease carriers”, “junkie's”, “whores”, etc. in order to make these public appearances to accomplish this awareness raising. There were no awards back then while we were changing minds and hearts – only a lot of pink slips and eviction notices on my door when I'd come home from a TV show taping for many years.
Our alternative sentencing offering for Los Angeles and San Diego county ended in 1994 after the Sherman Oaks earthquake. I relocated back to Nebraska and while our meetings continued in southern California – none of our members were willing to break their “anonymity” to anyone at the local probation department, prosecutors' office, sheriff, etc. to maintain a liaison communication. As a matter of fact, they still aren't. Our members report to us they're still suffering a lot of job limitations and social stigmatization. Look at what happened when the truth leaked out about Suzy Favor Hamilton's work as a Vegas escort as just one example of the damage the truth about our lives causes (no she's not a member so I'm not violating a confidence here) when people find out.
Which is my biggest problem right now with offering you access to talk to some of our members today as well as why the members are prompting me to speak to you on their behalf. Look at Suzy's life for an example as to why – when the news came out she was an escort she lost millions in contracts and sponsorships and almost lost her marriage and custody of her child. So people have grounds to be concerned about guarding their privacy. Also, technology has changed things. Back in the 80's and early 90's we could go on national TV shows like 60 Minutes, 20/20, Good Morning America, Donahue, etc. and be seen across America. But then once the show as over – our faces were then taken off the air where they were forgotten a few days later.
So our members didn't mind speaking their stories on major media back then to help raise awareness because we were hoping to get the federal recognition. Again, keep in mind there were no federal grants back then to be achieved as we hadn't achieved federal recognition even until the year 2000 so it certainly wasn't like we got any money for these appearances. If anything, in order to be “believed” when we'd speak about sex trafficking – we would refuse donations, as well as book and movie offers.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED
Things are different now for two major reasons – the first being the nature of media. Now if someone goes onto TV – their face will be spread from one end of the world to the other and it will probably never come off the internet. Meaning one of us could be going on a job interview ten years from now and have a clip about our past suddenly popping up to greet us. This kind of thing makes one extremely reluctant to do any type of public appearance that's going to be recorded, and also then placed on the internet for posterity. Especially when we have no financial stake in the issue – no federal grants we're applying for, no fund raisers we're organizing, no office we're running for, etc. Our members aren't just “new” to recovery either – they have careers, companies, children, etc. In other words, a lot to lose should they reach out in a public arena in an identifiable manner to speak.
The second is something that started happening to our members starting with the passing of the TVRA of 2003. This change in the trafficking law not only allowed for federal money to now be obtained to work with this community, but further only on the condition one NOT view this issue as one of an “industry” where trafficking exists, but instead as a human rights violation. When then President Bush weighed in restricting federal funds to only faith based programs who previously had no track record of success working with our community, or even really interest, this brought onto the field a bunch of “faith based groups” who basically looked down upon everyone who said that one could be in the sex industry “voluntarily” or as a vocation in any way. Literally the only way these could even “stomach” working with us was to essentially “cherry pick” the heterosexual females of child bearing age who were willing to identify by the label of “victim” in exchange for financial resources and services we as a 12 step program couldn't, and wouldn't offer them. I say that because we don't believe in putting our members into year long programs being kept like children when the goal is financial self-responsibility.
For the first time, money was an issue now in this work. Meaning in 2003 our 12 step program had a meeting in every major city of the USA who was working in partnership with the local police, courts, social services, shelters, drug programs, mental health departments, etc. because we had been working with this community effectively, for free, and frankly since day one. Providing a form of “case management” in the process at no cost to anyone also making everyone else's job easier. Meaning whatever might have been lacking in each town for that recovering prostitute/survivor – our program was able to pick up that slack. Only after the TVRA of 2003 passed – suddenly we were handed a “pink slip” if you will at every Salvation Army and Catholic Charity shelter where we had been holding meetings. Why there? Because back then no facility would donate us meeting space. Since we didn't charge anyone anything, and received no outside funding, we couldn't afford rent.
Suddenly all of our chapters were “homeless” and sent into chaos. Grant applications started going out from local churches looking for funds to now hire people to do professionally the very services which we had been doing for years for free as volunteers. Why would anyone pay for something they can get for free? So our members were further shunned, fired, shut out, ignored, even in some cases banned from the property so they couldn't even speak to their own sponsees anymore. Then the grant applications and fund raisers were held to “fill the need” which had just been artificially created.
Because there was no monetary judgment to win – we couldn't find a lawyer to help us overturn this situation. We did however get the ACLU involved which led to the winning of the ACLU v. Catholic Bishops lawsuit in 2009, and further a Supreme Court decision in 2012. What these meant in plain English was that one could no longer shut us out of working with the very community that was our membership in a field which we had created because of other people with a financial, religious, and ideological agenda who frankly outnumber us greatly. I'm only telling you this to explain how we went from being a group with a chapter in every major city nationwide in 2003 – to now being virtually invisible to the eye of outsiders to our program.
Because these “faith based groups” had lost on legal grounds the right to block us from even simple access to those seeking recovery from the sex industry for any reason, and feeling millions of dollars in grants and donations being threatened now they couldn't legally shut us away from survivors who wanted to attend our meetings – what was left without a legal ability to shut us out of this field, and away from survivors was when the “witch hunts” began as I call them. Starting about 2013, after the Supreme Court win in 2012, we found we had to shut down all online groups, forums, chat rooms, etc. We had to tell all SWA members to remove any identification with our program off their social media.
To give you just one example of how bad it got – in Phoenix where Project Rose was operating, we had a member of SWA just simply start to set up a meeting. That was it – she found a meeting spot and started to distribute flyers and invite potential members to attend. The next thing she knows she's being stalked, her home broken into, gasoline poured on her house, and she's even having someone break into her car only stealing her flyers for the meeting. This was happening in every city where a SWA meeting was being set up. The secretaries were receiving threatening phone calls, they were being smeared online, etc. It reached a point where we had to completely restructure our entire program in order to not only maintain our members' anonymity – but to also protect their basic security and physical safety. This extended to identified members of SWA also being fired from their jobs even if working in the field and known they were members of SWA.
What this means is that our members right now are EXTREMELY reluctant to appear anywhere on camera such as a city council meeting or a legislature hearing, and especially reluctant to have any interactions which might violate their anonymity such as even speaking at public panels on the subject of sex trafficking. I however am already considered a “public figure”. I provided the world with copies of my arrest in 1984 to prove that I had set up a warehouse in 1984 for victims which was mistaken as a brothel to establish sex trafficking was in fact real in the modern world. I did that so I wouldn't wind up with accusations discrediting me like we saw with Samoly Mam, Chong Kim or even Rachel Moran. So in a sense I've already given up my “anonymity” in order to represent the voices of our members as best as I possibly can by writing letters like this one today for you.
THE VOICES WE REPRESENT
I represent an extensive range of voices. There are some interviews with members up at www.leavingtheliferadio.com Also, I frankly don't know any other program working with adults that has the length of time in this field (I've been working with men and women coming out of the sex industry since 1984 officially), the geographic range we have (we have chapters across the USA, into Canada, and also in five other countries right now. Our Russian chapter has six meetings a week.) Our members are coming from both the legal and illegal sides of the sex industry being we have members coming out of the Nevada, UK, and Australian, legal brothels as well as illegal brothels within the USA. The gender of our members is male, female and trans, the religious base covers everything from Christianity, to Judaism, Buddhism and of course our atheist members. The age of our members ranges from teenagers on up to our oldest board members is 83 years of age. Our members are coming from not just prostitution, stripping, porn, and webcam studios – but they include strip club owners, porn producers, madams, ex-pimps, massage parlor madams who came to us with her 40 “employees” one night after the death of her daughter. This horrible event prompted he to ask to help the women working for her to get placed in jobs outside of the parlor once she was closing down the shop.
I'm especially proud of a man who owned two strip clubs where rampant trafficking was going on within them. He couldn't stand the guilt any longer and one day asked to come help him go and padlock the doors and hang the “for sale” sign. Considering as you know he just lost almost all the value of the business by shutting it down to sell it – I admire what he did that day very much. Then when the women, and their pimps, showed up to “work” he introduced them to SWA and offered every single one of the dancers who had been working for him a way to leave their pimp, and the sex industry, right there on the spot. He bought a lot of plane tickets that night for women to go back home. Which is why you can see that we don't limit our view to that of the issue being only about prostitution, nor only about sex trafficking.
OUR DIFFERENCES IS OUR STRENGTH
To give you a comparison of why our view might be a little different than others and be a good thing – Polaris was opened in 2002. We opened in 1987. The hard work had been done by then – including the achievement of federal recognition. Polaris wasn't fighting rooms full of people accusing them of “making up stories to get on TV” when they opened their hotline. A hotline which has taken about 100,000 calls to date according to their reports. In going over our phone records – I've personally answered over 500,000 calls to the hotline. When Polaris recommends “yoga for survivors” based on a study they read – they haven't been working on the recovery of survivors “one on one” over a thirty year period of time, going to their homes for Christmas dinner, attending their weddings, planning their college graduation parties, or baking them a cake for their anniversary party celebrating 29 years of “time” free from all forms of commercial sexual behavior – forced or not – while we have.
Issues are going to appear different to the “rookie” vs. the “old dog” which is why police departments have been pairing older cops with those right out of the academy to train them properly ever since I can remember. So too is the issue of prostitution and sex trafficking. A quick story to illustrate – last night our hotline got a call from a woman saying she was “being trafficked and could not quit until she had a place to stay to get away from her pimp”. She was requesting to be placed in a shelter. Many programs would have done just that. Now I asked her if she was physically free from danger and she confirmed she was in no danger at all from the man who now is becoming her “boyfriend” instead of her “pimp”. I then ask her how many times she's got herself placed in someone's home, or a shelter, or a program, in order to “leave this pimp” before she herself picked up the phone and voluntarily returned back to what appears to be this man's control over her. She replied four times now she's left, moved in with someone, gotten a job, and then missing him, or the sex industry – returned by choice.
Instead of directing her to a shelter, I paired her with a “sponsor”, gave her a meeting schedule, and a copy of our “Recovery Guide”. Upon which she admitted she was “addicted” to the pimp, and this is what she really did need to address in order to leave – not just be put into another shelter. I'm sure she's going to be fine as we have a very high success rate with our members with respect to getting them out of the industry entirely, in recovery from other addictions and disorders, and not only not returning to the sex industry within the two year mark that over 98 percent do return according to one study I read in the 1980's – but we help them not suffer from what we've dubbed as “post-prostitution syndrome”.
If you're familiar with the concept of a dry drunk – then you'll know often victims who have had a pimp exploiting and controlling them that once removed from said pimp will find someone who exerts the same controlling and exploitative influence. Just substituting one pimp for another. You'll see many of these leave prostitution – only to then become controlled by maybe a church pastor who exploits them for money. In fact, our first big “rescue” case involved the “Children of God” cult where he was teaching the women how to do “flirty fishing” (exploiting donors for money using sex), and then putting their children into child porn he'd then sell. After asking for housing for 10 families on a Geraldo show to get away from this pastor – he fled the country in 1987 and changed the name of his cult. Meaning sometimes emergency housing is necessary for trafficking victims. I speak about this case to explain why we don't just look for trafficking victims on a street corner – but sometimes in police stations and even churches.
I go into the history of the movement, and our program more in our book “Anatomy of a Movement” due out this December, and our “Recovery Guide” which is available now which explains more about how our program works, some of the issues we are working with, and how we do work with them. I'm just trying here in this letter to give you an idea about the wealth of experience and knowledge I'd like you to know about, and to be able to draw upon as needed, now that I'm back here residing in Los Angeles again. Honestly, we haven't bothered to reach out to offices, and officials, such as yours really before now unless we had direct business because as a 12 step program we are volunteers first of all. Meaning we spend our time only working with our members as a general rule. We just don't have the kind of time involved to be running around doing walk-athons, fund raisers, panels, luncheons, picnics. I mean it's getting to be much when a few weeks ago we were trying to organize a rescue of two women in Miami and literally every single trafficking group we called was not answering our call to help these women because of being at some fund raiser. For many groups – that's all they do.
CHANGE IS THE ONE CONSTANT
We've stuck to basically just our own members until we started seeing our members being sought out, identified, targeted, stalked, smeared, bullied, etc. by people with financial, political and religious agendas. Then it reached the point where it impacted our operations, our growth, and our safety.
Things changed for us recently to where we're now finding ourselves unable to even do what we do because of certain types of interference, targeting, and harassment that's even difficult to describe clearly that's impacting us on many levels. The only solution for which we can see for some of this is that we do need to build a relationship between our program and others within the trafficking field, the legislature, law enforcement, and the political arena. In other words, non-members.
This is because of an increasing amount of the numbers of traffickers we're seeing actually entering the field. Much like how pedophiles will seek out employment or activities where they get access to children. In order to protect themselves, traffickers are now positioning themselves in very interesting ways. We know of more than one residential program for example that's a front for a trafficking operation. Now I ask you – who do we go to about this when they are on the trafficking task force?
I'm now even seeing them affect the laws concerning these issues. Does anyone remember when Pablo Escobar actually voted for Mexico not to extradite drug traffickers – and then built his own jail? Well I feel like I'm watching this happen here with respect to sex trafficking. For example, we're even seeing convicted pimps now testifying at your committee who is now “retired” but who is engaged in active legitimization trying to get prostitution legalized so that she can “open up shop” without getting re-arrested again. Now if you feel someone like that should be advising you on the issue of prostitution and trafficking – that's understandable. But then you would also understand why we then feel that maybe we should be included to provide some “counter-balance” to that influence. Especially when associates of this convicted pimp are some of the exact people who are threatening myself and our members, and affecting the very operation of our hot line and program. Also, just as some people with an agenda created the fake “Samoly Mam” who was not a true trafficking victim – they're doing the same thing with fake sex workers also misleading people about the sex industry in the same vein.
So for this reason, and many others too long to go into in this already long letter, I'm writing you to ask that you please notify me of any future hearings, meetings, panels, etc. on these subjects so that we might attend, and hopefully even be involved.
We have to change the fact that this movement is becoming “counter-productive” in some ways. Even Michael Horowitz, the author of the Trafficking Act, has said in an interview that movement has been “hijacked”. I liken it to this – this country once had prohibition. Then heavy drinking was viewed as a moral issue. Bill Wilson advanced the idea there was something at work in the alcoholic they had no control over – the idea they weren't “bad” but “sick”. A woman who got sober in AA, Marty Mann, then founded the National Council on Alcoholism whose research led to the medical research which then established alcoholism was in fact a disease. Now courts take this into consideration and some are offered treatment rather than jail. Now I ask you – what movement about alcoholism would exclude Bill Wilson and Alcoholics Anonymous? Well you had a meeting in October of 2015 involving prostitution and trafficking, where some who attended are well aware we exist, yet we were not invited to attend or even notified about said meeting. THAT'S how a movement gets hijacked.
I first invite you to please check out the cases of Margo Compton, Chris Butler, Liang Yaoshui, Kemp Schiffer, Operation Dollhouse, the G Sting arrests, the Los Angeles and the Las Vegas Police Chiefs and Sheriff's who have stepped down because of corruption accusations, the NJ strip club owned by DEA agents, the recent news of two Chicago cops who were trafficking a 14 year old girl and the sentencing of three pimps who ran 9 massage parlors in Wichita, Kansas in 2013 first.
After reviewing these cases in the news – I'll have an easier time explaining to you that over the last 18 months I've been reaching an increasingly deeper impasse with respect to sex trafficking victims, as well as people who care about them, the state of Internal Affairs and the impact technology is having on these issues. For example – do you know how challenging it's become to organize an “escape” of a victim when because of new technology her trafficker can over hear every single word she's saying on the phone? Further, the phone is tracking her movements? I say we have a conflict when I see a panel by non-survivors advising people in this field that the new technology of these phones can “aid rescue” of victims – when right here on the front lines I'm seeing it's trapping them.
Also, our hotline is receiving calls about alleged cases of sex trafficking I'm trying to do the two things I normally do in these cases (1) connect them to services needed and (2) go to the authorities to address the trafficking that's active and ongoing to get it shut down. That's what all these millions of dollars are being put out there is for – to be able to create a system where victims can receive assistance.
Twelve step groups can only do so much. Sometimes outside programs and services need to be brought in. If for example an addict is in an NA meeting and he's been using a lot of drugs over a short period of time and he goes into a seizure – guess what? I'm going to call an ambulance for that addict. I'm not going to tell him to “go to meeting” when he's having a seizure. Meaning sometimes I have situations where we need outside assistance. Now since I have been in Los Angeles – I have tried to get assistance with cases being reported to me of sex trafficking from local law enforcement, the trafficking task forces, the groups supposedly there to help – and I'm not receiving ANY RESPONSE AT ALL. I am literally contacting the police, the task forces, the NGO'S – and there's something very wrong here when I can't even get so much as a return phone call let alone assistance. This is not personal either as I've asked the victims directly to ask for assistance/response and THEY are not being responded to in any way. Not one case, not one call – but over a period of TWO YEARS NOW.
I had a bitter conflict with one of our members in Chicago, Brenda Myers-Powell, when she took a job working with the Chicago police helping prostitutes. Why? Because our view of trafficking is that it's always, and is increasing, it's involvement with people within law enforcement and authorities. Meaning for victims to feel safe enough to come forward for help – they have to know we are NOT connected to law enforcement in any significant way. By taking a job with them – Brenda became “one of them”. I felt this would then block many victims from coming forward to her for help. Now thank God the FBI was able to uncover those two agents who were trafficking that 14 year old girl – because before the FBI had that operation going we've had to rely on helping girls like that with our “reputation on the streets” as “not being connected with law enforcement”. So I feel that had Brenda not taken that job – the girl quite possibly might have come forward to our hotline sooner.
I bring this up to explain why I try and keep a “public” distance from law enforcement in the media. I don't want victims think we're “too close” to law enforcement because I'm trying to encourage all victims to come forward – even those afraid of the cops. However, I'm now getting more and more reports about sex trafficking involving the authorities beyond what the FBI uncovered in Chicago and I'm trying to figure out where to go with this. I'm getting absolutely no response from anyone in any type of Internal Affairs offices either.
So you can see I have many reasons why I'm reaching out to the people connected with the recent hearing and realizing I need to establish some kind of connection/relationship. I'm therefore asking you to please let me know of future events, and volunteering to be involved and help in any way that I can. We do by the way have some projects going that you might find useful and/or interesting.
There's an outreach project, a teaching series, a documentary/research film, our history project, and just all kinds of interesting and useful things we have going on. Please let me know more about what each of you are doing so that I can get up to speed on work.
Thank your for your time in reading this letter. I look forward to meeting and talking with each of you.