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Commentary :: DNC
Republicans and Sex Workers at the RNC and DNC: Good Old-Fashioned Pleasure (GOP)
01 Jul 2004
This August (2004), New York City will host the Republican National Convention (RNC). And the sex industry says it is gearing up for those “family value” Republicans to hit town with their fat wallets. During the FTAA protests in Miami in 2003, a judge said he watched police break laws all around him, and that the only reason he, himself, was not assaulted or arrested was that the police recognized him as a judge. And knowing full well that police officers and politicians are no strangers to the sex industry, as paying customers, I wonder how that plays out in real life during protests and police riots. Would a cop in NYC, for instance, jeopardize his working relationship with his favorite sex worker, by being violent on that person if they met on the front lines during the RNC protests this summer? Would a sex worker return to their previous working relationship with a cop in private, after experiencing assaults from him during political protests in public? Adversely, would police target sex workers they see at protests, later, on the streets, after the RNC, under the radar, when things return to “normal?” Unlike many of the protesters who come in from elsewhere and leave after the protests, people who work on NYC’s streets have to deal with the NYC police day in and out, and thus their participation in the week’s protest events during the RNC would have different considerations, I would think, than the out of town activist contingency.
This article could just as easily apply to Boston and the DNC this summer...

Republicans and Sex Workers at the RNC: Good Old-Fashioned Pleasure (GOP)
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

This August (2004), New York City will host the Republican National Convention (RNC). And the sex industry says it is gearing up for those “family value” Republicans to hit town with their fat wallets. During the FTAA protests in Miami in 2003, a judge said he watched police break laws all around him, and that the only reason he, himself, was not assaulted or arrested was that the police recognized him as a judge. And knowing full well that police officers and politicians are no strangers to the sex industry, as paying customers, I wonder how that plays out in real life during protests and police riots. Would a cop in NYC, for instance, jeopardize his working relationship with his favorite sex worker, by being violent on that person if they met on the front lines during the RNC protests this summer? Would a sex worker return to their previous working relationship with a cop in private, after experiencing assaults from him during political protests in public? Adversely, would police target sex workers they see at protests, later, on the streets, after the RNC, under the radar, when things return to “normal?” Unlike many of the protesters who come in from elsewhere and leave after the protests, people who work on NYC’s streets have to deal with the NYC police day in and out, and thus their participation in the week’s protest events during the RNC would have different considerations, I would think, than the out of town activist contingency.

Prostitution and police have danced together underground forever. Likewise, Republicans who fiercely push for censorship and the criminalization of prostitution, are found guilty of said crimes they propose to want to eradicate time and time again. The criminal justice system, police, and the prostitution industry, dance with each other in every city in America. Sex is politics. And vice versa. Republican legislation affects the sex industry and the public, quite directly. The connection between the sex industry and protesting the RNC is not a leap of thought.

There is an extra danger for people of Middle Eastern dissent who protest the U.S. Iraq War in America in public, due to inherent racism in the U.S. War on Terrorism. Middle Eastern people are targeted by police due to race, not for committing crimes. Yet there are similar concerns for the sex industry workers who protest, especially those who are lower paid, who are working daily outside the law. Unlike the Middle Eastern dissenters, who are not breaking laws but targeted, sex workers *are* breaking laws, and often police know it and turn a blind eye, sometimes in return for sexual favors, ironically, and that is a precarious position in many ways, for the political protester/sex worker. If police see a prostitute at a political protest, they can take their political agenda out on the sex worker at a later time, in a later place, and they are the law, so…no one will know. Police do rape, and get away with it; just look up the story of old Tacoma Police *Chief* Brames. Additionally, police may have exploitable knowledge of a criminal record, and/or a history of poverty, creating a dependence on public defenders who can easily fail the sex worker in court. Classism can play into discretionary violence by riot police. Police are more violent with, and prosecutors are more liberal to press charges against, people they perceive to be poor, due to the public defender and criminal injustice system, primarily, which protects cops, not the poor.

There are serious security concerns for the sex industry around the RNC. Just like when the Olympics come to an American town, city streets are often “swept clean” during big conventions. The homeless, prostitutes, drug dealers, and others, are shuffled to other areas suddenly, under threat of arrest, and/or are incarcerated at higher rates during that period. The idea is to make the host city look as if it has no street activity but shoppers. In an article entitled “Sex Pros Get Ready for Party,” by Jose Martinez, in the NY Daily News (June 28, 2004), he cites NYC escort services saying they are doubling the normal amount of women escorts available during the convention, and that women are being flown in from London, Seattle, and California for that week. But the same article also cites some escort services feeling uncomfortable with the increased police attention around hotels and apartment buildings during the RNC. Many buildings involved in sex work do not necessarily want increased terrorism measures and increased security patrols. Martinez’s article cites one midtown NYC escort agency saying they were not taking any out of town customers for security reasons during the RNC.

Some have wondered if sex workers will be allowed on streets that are off limits to protesters. That would be an interesting situation, and one that could prove advantageous to the protester/prostitute. Do police take revenge on prostitutes they see at political rallies later? Have police targeted poorer sex workers at political protests in the past? Are sex workers in more, or less, or equal, danger to an average protester, when police violence occurs? Do increased security measures from the Dept. of Homeland Security against terrorists for the RNC make prostitutes and escort services feel safer? Is the RNC invading NYC a blessing, or a curse, for the sex worker community? This topic is full of complex dynamics that we need to talk about more openly, and more often.
See also:
http://www.kirstenanderberg.com

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