NYPD Under Fire For Prostitution Arrests in Gay Community

212px-nypdpatchflag-rainbow1The gay community in Manhattan are denouncing a new campaign by the New York Police Department targeting the gay community and adult video stores. Men like Robert Pinter, 53, say that they were enticed by offers of consensual sex in the store (perfectly legal) and were then told on the way to their car that the man wanted to give them some money afterward — followed immediately with an arrest. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has denounced the arrests as abusive.

Pinter’s arrest came in October at the Blue Door Video store in the East Village. Here is how he described it to the media: “I was approached by a handsome Asian guy who was about half my age,” Pinter recalled. “He asked whether I wanted to have sex. … On the way out, he very suddenly said to me, ‘Oh, I want to pay you $50.’” He was then allegedly hit by a swarm of arresting officers.

The NYPD has arrested 27 men for prostitution — that is twice the average number. Notably, these arrests were then used as a basis for seeking to close the stores, which have been the subject of complaints by local citizens. The use of the arrests to justify the closure adds to the suspicion that these may be manufactured violations. There is also the problem that the arrested individuals generally have no prostitution violations in their background. Two-thirds are 42 years old or older.

It is difficult to believe that New York has run out of serious crimes to investigate. There is obviously much room for a city council investigation into the motives and means for an operation of this size.

For the full story, click here.

27 thoughts on “NYPD Under Fire For Prostitution Arrests in Gay Community”

  1. Dear Prof. Turley,

    I was heartened to see your attention to this issue. In 2005 Amnesty International published “Stonewalled” a report on police abuse and misconduct against LGBT people in the US. It’s conclusion: “Nearly four decades after Stonewall, and despite significant progress in the recognition of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the targeting of LGBT individiuals for police abuse and misconduct remains a persistent and widespread problem in the US”

    If you would have read the above statement to me prior to October 10, 2008, I would have said “No way, not today, not in 2008!” I received my “wake up” call when those handcuffs clicked on my wrists for doing absolutely nothing illegal. I have formed a Coalition to Stop the Arrests. We are working with the NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the NYC LGBT Community Center, Queer Justice League and the Urban Justice Center and concerned elected officials to keep the spotlight on this abuse and police misconduct until it ends.

    A colleague recently forwarded the following quote from ACT UP’s Civil Disobedience Manual (remember them?):

    “Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

    – Frederick Douglass, African-American abolitionist

    I am also a huge fan of yours from “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”. Keep up the brilliant work.

    With gratitude,
    Robert Pinter
    Coalition to Stop the Arrests

  2. Jill & Mike,

    Another poverty issue? Two words: human trafficking.

    I can’t stress enough that a systems health is judged by it’s stability and the strength of weakest components. You elevate the poor, you elevate us all.

  3. Mike,

    I really agree that going all out to do the possible, eliminate poverty , would be a very good pursuit. Here is another problem that arises due to poverty:

    “As international adoptions have flourished, so has evidence that babies in many countries are being systematically bought, coerced, and stolen away from their birth families. Nearly half the 40 countries listed by the U.S. State Department as the top sources for international adoption over the past 15 years — places such as Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Peru, and Romania — have at least temporarily halted adoptions or been prevented from sending children to the United States because of serious concerns about corruption and kidnapping. And yet when a country is closed due to corruption, many adoption agencies simply transfer their clients’ hopes to the next “hot” country. That country abruptly experiences a spike in infants and toddlers adopted overseas — until it too is forced to shut its doors.

    Along the way, the international adoption industry has become a market often driven by its customers. Prospective adoptive parents in the United States will pay adoption agencies between $15,000 and $35,000 (excluding travel, visa costs, and other miscellaneous expenses) for the chance to bring home a little one. Special needs or older children can be adopted at a discount. Agencies claim the costs pay for the agency’s fee, the cost of foreign salaries and operations, staff travel, and orphanage donations. But experts say the fees are so disproportionately large for the child’s home country that they encourage corruption.


  4. Mike S.

    “[Y]ou can’t effectively prohibit it.”

    That’s the whole kit right there. It’s the world’s oldest profession, even older than agriculture. “Hey, Og! I’ll give you a rub and a tug for that antelope leg.” Or conversely, “I’ll give you an antelope leg for a rub and a tug.” It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. We might as well mitigate any negative effects as much as possible and get out of the way.

  5. In my work I ran up against a lot of the ills that go with prostitution and was sickened by them. You are also correct in saying that it has a devastating effect on the poor and that poverty spurs recruitment. As I’ve also inferred it has never personally appealed to me and I view it with some distaste.

    When it comes to affecting the poor so will organ selling gain growth in the years to come. The solution is the eradication of poverty, which is not only possible, but also desirable for the whole of society. When it comes to prostitution the human race coming to maturity in viewing sexuality and overcoming ridiculous religious biases against it, would also reduce demand.

    In the end though prostitution needs to be legalized, in my opinion, because you can’t effectively prohibit it. If that is true, than the best we can do is have it controlled from a health and anti-exploitation standpoint and hope that we grow enough in the future to find healthier options to deal with our sexual needs.

  6. Mike S.

    I am not for criminalizing prostitution but I think it is wrong for one person to buy another person. Today a report came out on the BBC that prostitution has increased among the poor because of economic hard times. I am enclosing a very good article from a small local paper. I know some of the young girls involved in this story. This is the norm for prostitution (or it’s much worse). I wanted to include opposing points of views because many women and men do support it. I do not, not for sexual reasons, but for reasons found in the article.


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