City Paper Widget

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dupont First ANC to Support Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle has become the first ANC to publicly support the repeal of the Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014. The ANC voted unanimously, with all nine Commissioners present, in favor of a resolution calling for the repeal at its regular monthly meeting on May 14.

David Grosso
Commissioners said Council Member David Grosso (I-At Large) had asked for the ANC's support of the repeal. Grosso introduced a bill that would repeal the Act in early April.

The resolution also "respectfully" asks D.C. City Council Member Jack Evans (D-Ward Two) to support the repeal of the act.

Jack Evans
The Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act was passed by the City Council in its current form in 2012. Its chief proponent is Council Member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), in response to concerns about chronic prostitution in her district. D.C.'s Office of the Attorney General and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) have both expressed the opinion that the law is probably unconstitutional. ANC Commissioners at the May 14 meeting said they were in favor of "removing a law that's not being enforced".

Under the law, the Chief of Police may declare an area a Prostitution Free Zone for a period of up to 20 days. In such a Zone, police have enhanced and somewhat vague powers of search and arrest. For example (according to a police spokesperson), a person found loitering in a Prostitution Free Zone in possession of two or more condoms could be arrested. They could not be arrested in such a circumstance outside a Prostitution Free Zone.

ANC2B Commissioner Abigail Nichols (district 05) said the law raises "the potential for policing of a discriminatory and abusive nature".

The resolution itself states: "Prostitution Free Zones do not reduce prostitution and further marginalize sex workers, low income people of color, transgender people, lesbians and gays, and the homeless..."

This is the second resolution ANC2B has passed in opposition to the Prostitution Free Zone Amendment Act. The first resolution was in 2012.

Read an April 3 op-ed from the Washington Blade by Council Member Grosso advocating repeal of the Act here.

The resolution supporting repeal of the bill was championed by now-former ANC2B Commissioner Kevin O'Connor (district 02). O'Connor resigned effective at the end of the May 14 meeting. He is moving to Petworth.

(photo credit: from the web sites of the respective council members)

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