For Immediate Release 12/11/2017
The Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP) will host Alaska’s 5th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers in Anchorage Sunay, December 17, 1 PM, at the Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles, located at 420 West 3rd Avenue in Anchorage (the old Potluck Events). This year there will be a memorial for Patty Phelps (aka Peppermint Patty), our community member whose murder earlier this year is still unsolved – like those of 17 other Anchorage sex workers since 1990.
The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was started after Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, was caught and confessed to killing over 90 women, most of them sex workers. Similar to Alaska’s sex worker serial killer, Robert Hansen, Ridgeway said that he thought he could kill sex workers for as long as he wanted because no one cared about them. Community United for Safety and Protection will join other sex worker groups across the globe who observe this day to raise visibility of the harms of criminalization.
It was just a year ago that Community United for Safety and Protection released results of a statewide poll exposing Alaskans’ views on sex work. “When you have a statewide poll that shows 90% of Alaskan voters believe should be against the law for police officers to have sexual contact or intercourse with individuals they are investigating and that legislation has been opposed by law enforcement, it shows who is out of step,” said Maxine Doogan. “As a nation and state reeling from the sexual assault and harassment allegations, it would be in Alaska’s best interest to pass House Bill 112, which would make it illegal for police officers to have sex with people in Alaska’s sex trade regardless of if we’re here by force or otherwise.”
The Community United for Safety and Protection is a group of current and former sex workers, including sex trafficking victims, and their allies advocating for safety and protection for everyone in Alaska’s sex trades.
Despite opposition from the Anchorage Police Department and the Municipal Prosecutors office, the Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance to allow for immunity from prostitution charges for sex workers and sex trafficking victims making good faith reports of heinous crimes. Watch CUSP win:
On October 12th FBI agents in Anchorage, Alaska did prostitution stings at the Hyatt. This is Alanna’s story of being touched by a male agent, having her phone taken, being detained for well over 2 hours, and being denied medical attention.
Assembly approves granting immunity to sex workers who aid police
By Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media –
June 28, 2017
On Tuesday night, the Anchorage Assembly approved a measure that gives immunity to sex workers who tell police when more serious crimes have occurred.
When the ordinance was first introduced it drew support from advocates, as well as several women who had previously engaged in prostitution. Many testified they’d encountered heinous and violent crime, but were afraid of reporting it to law enforcement for fear of prosecution.
However critics said the proposal was vague, hard to enforce and targeted a problem Anchorage may or may not have. Even after revisions, the municipal prosecutor’s office remained firmly opposed.
But Assembly members like Eric Croft of West Anchorage felt the re-worked ordinance was narrow enough to potentially boost reporting to law enforcement without many negative impacts.
“And it’s not doing very much harm because, again, there aren’t that many prosecutions for this,” Croft said.
Under municipal statue, prostitution is a class B misdemeanor. The new measure specifies a person who witnesses or is victim to a some class A misdemeanors can receive immunity if he or she cooperates in reporting it to police. The move is aligned with a similar provision in SB91, last year’s state omnibus crime bill.
The ordinance passed 10 to 1, with Eagle River representative Amy Demboski opposed.
Elsewhere in the meeting, the Assembly voted to advance a complicated development project. The move opens the possibility of using tax abatement as a tool for converting the outdated Department of Health and Human Services downtown into senior housing, and building new residential units in a section of Midtown Anchorage off Tudor Road. The proposal from the mayor’s administration received some criticism for not working more closely with the school district, which uses a nearby property to operate its fleet
The body also approved a parking proposal from East Anchorage Assembly member Forrest Dunbar. The measure establishes a grace-period for leaving cars parked downtown overnight on weekends up until 11am the next morning.