Multiple cities in California are now seeing rampant, public prostitution activities, pushing residents in many places into stress and fear, with critics blaming the situation on a Democrat-supported bill that repealed a law against loitering for prostitution purposes.
East 15th Street, a neighborhood in Oakland, used to be a quiet area. However, things changed after prostitution activity rose. Resident Estefani Zarate worries about how this will affect her young children. “I’m scared for them to see (the women) in inappropriate clothes, (then ask) me questions and I don’t have answers for them,” she said to CBS News.
“It shouldn’t be introduced at the age of 4 years old that you’re going down the street and you’re seeing women dress like this (or) you need to learn ‘oh, if you hear gunshots, duck down,’” said Estefani’s sister Marlen Zarate.
Residents from the Capp Street neighborhood in San Francisco are pleading for officials to intervene after prostitution activity rose.
Following resident requests, city officials are reportedly planning to install barriers along a strip of Capp Street which is said to be where prostitution activities are the most concentrated.
In multiple cities across California, scenes of thong-wearing women on street corners, prostitutes twerking at traffic, and pimps tailing mothers who take their kids to school are becoming common.
Democrat Bill Against Loitering
Senate Bill 357, introduced by Democrat state Sen. Scott Wiener, was signed into law last year by California Democrat governor Gavin Newsom. The bill repealed a law that prohibited loitering for prostitution activities. It came into effect on Jan. 1.
Some Republicans are blaming the law for making life difficult for families. “California Democrats’ policy of legalizing crime is creating more victims by the hour,” GOP Assembly leader James Gallagher said in a statement, according to Fox.
“Under Democratic rule, families and businesses are moving out, while human traffickers are moving in. It was clear from the get-go that this law would encourage and enable human trafficking, but that was apparently an acceptable result for the lawmakers who backed it.”
“[The law] hinder[s] law enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute those who commit crimes related to prostitution and human trafficking,” Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun told The Epoch Times in November 2022. “Additionally, it could hinder the ability of identifying those being victimized.”
Vanessa Russell, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Love Never Fails, said that legalizing loitering for prostitution has created an increase in demand in Californian cities.
In areas like San Francisco and Oakland, there has reportedly been a tripling in the number of exploited people, she said.
“The anti-police sentiment that was leveraged to push this bill through touting safer streets for all … [is] unfortunately harming these populations much more than it helps because the police are no longer able to conduct early intervention with violent exploiters and buyers,” Russell stated.
Violence, California Prostitution Law
It is not just the presence of prostitution activities that is troubling the minds of residents. Some are disturbed by gunfire as well as public beatings.
“From the window right there, I’ll see three [people] ganging up on a girl,” a resident from Capp Street said to San Francisco Chronicle, gesturing toward a bay window that overlooks a busy intersection. “They’ll be hitting her … I call the cops; no one comes. There’s nothing I can do.”
According to California law, prostitution is illegal. Charged as a misdemeanor crime, a first offense carries up to six months of jail time and $1,000 in fines. Subsequent offenses can carry higher penalties.
Before Senate Bill 357, those who loitered with an intent to commit prostitution also attracted similar punishment. Senate Bill 357 has not only decriminalized loitering but has also allowed people who have been convicted on these charges to petition a court to get these offenses sealed from their records.