We know that many in our communities have turned to informal economies, including engaging in sex work, to support themselves. Sex workers have long been subject to police violence and harassment. Since 2006, the Chief of DC’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has had the power to designate any public space in DC as a prostitution free zone (PFZ). In a PFZ, the police can tell anyone to leave the area or face arrest, without any concrete basis for suspicion. That’s a recipe for police profiling, and it’s time to put PFZs to an end.
We opposed PFZs when they were first introduced, and now the DC Council is considering legislation to repeal this harmful and discriminatory law, that DC’s own Attorney General has determined is unconstitutional and indefensible. On Wednesday, June 9, at 11am, the DC Council’s Judiciary Committee will be considering the repeal measure. You can follow the hearing live online. Be sure to join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #RepealPFZs.
I am writing today in support of Bill B20-760 co-introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Catania, and Cheh and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Wells and Barry, which would repeal the discriminatory Prostitution Free Zones provision from the D.C. Code. Prostitution free zones promote the unfair profiling of DC's most vulnerable communities and create an atmosphere of mistrust toward the Metropolitan Police Department. Repealing this law will assist with the process of repairing relations between DC's trans communities and the police, and open the door for more meaningful conversation about issues related to sex work.