#NoCopAcademy Statement

Love & Protect’s #NoCopAcademy Statement

When we learned of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to devote $95 million to building a new Police and Fire Training Academy in West Garfield Park, we were dismayed, outraged, and eager to join with fierce organizers across the city to fight against this dangerous plan.

As members of Love & Protect, we support survivors of violence who identify as women, trans, and gender non-binary persons of color who are criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence.

Issues of police violence and gendered violence are intricately connected. We know that pumping $95 million into police training will not benefit survivors. In fact, doing so will increase the isolation and marginalization that so many survivors of sexual and domestic violence already experience.

Throughout October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, people will encounter sobering stories and statistics about domestic violence that show its prevalence and clear gendered patterns. What is less discussed is how the police exacerbate gendered violence.

Policing provides neither safety nor protection to women of color, trans, and non-binary folks. Sexual misconduct is the second most common form of reported police misconduct. Women of color are at heightened risk of physical violence and even death when police respond to calls for help in dealing with domestic violence in the home. Calling the police often results in further violence.

The direct violence that women of color, trans, and non-binary folks experience at the hands of police officers is coupled with a general lack of recognition of their need for protection. As Survived and Punished has documented, women of color, trans, and non-binary folks, are routinely criminalized for defending themselves from interpersonal and community violence.

This criminalization and lack of protection is especially evident with sex workers. The National LGBTQ Taskforce reports that “12 trans women and gender nonconforming individuals who engaged in sex work were murdered in the U.S. in 2015, 10 of whom were black and one of whom was Latina.�? Racial profiling coupled with the criminalization of sex work means that sex workers are more vulnerable to sexual and racialized violence at the hands of the police, as we saw with the Daniel Holtzclaw case.

Police responses to domestic violence are complicated by evidence that a number of police officers themselves are domestic abusers. Domestic violence is two to four times more prevalent amongst police families. The increased danger and surveillance victims face when their partners are police officers — with access to information, weapons, and a network of supportive law enforcement personnel — is staggering. Furthermore, officers accused of domestic violence rarely are held accountable for their behavior.

Certain groups of women experience higher rates and intensified impacts of domestic and state violence. Black cisgender and trans women are at higher risk for both partner based violence and murder and at higher risk of being harmed by those from whom they seek intervention. Black women are killed at a rate twice that of white women, and the second leading cause of death for Black women ages 15 to 25 in domestic violence murders.  Yet, reliance on policing and criminalization has not made those who are most vulnerable any safer.

Chicago already spends $4 million each day on policing. Those funds do not protect the countless women, trans, and non-binary folks who live at the intersections of so many systems of violence and oppression. Rather than invest in further criminalization and surveillance, we demand that Rahm Emanuel and the City Council fund resources – like public schools, community mental health clinics, job training, after-school programs, and affordable housing – that will provide actual support to communities and contribute to ending violence.
We invite you to tell Rahm Emanuel to commit to communities, not cops. Will you take action with us? A quick, immediate action is to call your alderperson to demand #NoCopAcademy. For a script and info on how to find your alderperson, check out Assata’s Daughters’ Facebook event. To stay connected and updated with the #NoCopAcademy campaign, visit https://nocopacademy.wordpress.com/.

#StopSESTA Statement

Say No to SESTA
A Statement from Love & Protect and The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against
Girls & Young Women

We wish to bring your attention to two federal bills that pose an incredible danger to sex workers, trafficking victims, and our freedom of speech: FOSTA (H.R. 1865, Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017)  and SESTA (S. 1693, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017).

FOSTA recently passed the House of Representatives. SESTA, a related bipartisan bill, has been introduced in the Senate. It was introduced by Republican Senator Rob Portman, and has 66 cosponsors, including Illinois Senators Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. While these bills purport to protect trafficking victims, in practice, they will subject sex workers to further surveillance and criminalization.

As Chicago-based organizers working to end the criminalization of those that engage in survival, we urge you to take action by calling Durbin and Duckworth. Demand that they vote NO on SESTA!

What SESTA Does:

  1. 1693 will make websites criminally liable if they “knowingly assist, support, or facilitate sex trafficking.” SESTA’s supporters claim the bill will protect trafficking victims by making it easier for authorities to identify and prosecute traffickers. Many anti-trafficking advocates, however, challenge this assumption, noting that SESTA will drive trafficking further underground, making it even more difficult to identify and assist victims. Equally concerning is the likelihood that SESTA will place sex workers at greater risk. SESTA is another bill in a long line of misguided legislation that fails to distinguish between trafficking victims and people who consensually engage in sex work. It disregards sex workers’ right to safety.

How SESTA Harms Sex Workers:

Sex workers rely on online advertising as a harm reduction strategy. They rely on various online platforms to create secure communities, to share resources, and to host ads, which allow them to offer services and to screen potential clients for violence. Through advertising, sex workers have safer access to clients and, therefore, safer access to income. If sex workers can’t engage in these types of harm reduction practices, they’re often forced to the street, where they’re more prone to danger and to criminalization. Anti-trafficking organizer Kate D’Adamo states that this bill will “undermine almost every single thing I would tell people for how to stay alive.”

We know that sex workers who are most likely to endure these additional harms are sex workers who are poor, women of color, queer and/or trans. We know that sex workers face violence at the hands of police and clients. We know that because of social stigma and discrimination, sex workers have little recourse from the system when they have survived violence, which further increases their vulnerability.

As writer Alana Massey explains, “The problem is that these bills target websites that are widely and inaccurately believed to be hubs of trafficking activity when it is precisely those websites that enable people in the sex trades to do their work safely and independently, at the same time as they make it easier for authorities to find and investigate possible trafficking cases.” We cannot let SESTA take away the safety and survival strategies sex workers have developed.

How SESTA Harms Online Expression

SESTA uses sex workers and victims of trafficking as an excuse to further clamp down on our freedom of online expression. Recall that net neutrality protections are being reversed. Former President Obama actively endorsed net neutrality and enacted a set of rules to prevent major corporations such as Amazon, Comcast, and Verizon, from monopolizing internet access and from controlling online content. SESTA will further limit how we engage and express ourselves in online communities, who gets access, and how that access gets controlled. For this reason, free speech groups and even some mainstream feminist organizations are strongly opposing this bill.

How SESTA Harms Activists and Advocates
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), SESTA bill would “force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.” This means that grassroot organizations like ours can face criminal prosecution when advocating for the rights of sex workers, defending them from criminalization, or sharing resources that are critical to their safety and survival. Given the conflation between consensual sex work and trafficking, advocacy work easily can be misconstrued as “supporting” traffickers. The EFF echoes this concern, making clear that instead of fulfilling its aims, this legislation would be “a disaster for internet intermediaries, marginalized communities, and even trafficking victims themselves.”

What We Can Do to Fight SESTA

Support sex workers who are leading the fight against S. 1693. Call your senators before Monday, 3/12/18, and demand that they vote NO on SESTA. To our fellow Illinois residents, please call Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth. Let them know they have made a mistake in co-sponsoring SESTA and urge them to vote NO.

Use these scripts from The Massachusetts Sex Worker Ally Network

Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in ___________ (city in district). I’m calling to urge Senator ____________ to vote NO on SESTA, Senate Bill 1693 because it infringes on online free speech and community harm reduction practices. SESTA does not protect trafficking survivors – it only further criminalizes them and sex workers. I strongly urge the Senator to vote no on this extremely important bill on Monday. Thank you.

I am a [loved one of a/parent of a/service provider to/an ally of] sex worker[s] and this bill would compromise the lives of people who trade sex, including trafficking victims, by taking away the platforms people are using to stay safe. I am calling to ask you not to put [me/my community/my loved one/my child] in danger of  greater violence and victimization. Please vote no on this terribly misguided bill, which is expected to be voted on March 12. Thank you for your time!”

Find your senators’ numbers here.

Illinois folks, call Senator Durbin’s office at (312) 353-4952 and Senator Duckworth’s office at (312) 886-3506. You can also email Durbin and Duckworth or tweet them at @SenatorDurbin @SenDuckworth

Chicago Organizations in Support:

Moms United Against Violence & Incarceration
For The People Artists Collective
Support Ho(s)e
Brave Space Alliance