“What is happening is almost exactly as I predicted it,” said Lyn Archer, a dancer and organizer in New Orleans. ATC is taking a leading role in policing strip clubs, and Archer sees their enforcement methods as proof the agency wants more clubs to close and more dancers out of work. “They know that we don’t believe our work should be a crime, and they do believe that it should be,” Archer told The Appeal. “They believe punishment is a deterrent.”
When Jessica Sunderland was incarcerated in Riverside Correctional Facility in Suffolk County, New York, she expected to continue the hormone treatment that her physician had prescribed. But Sunderland, a 32-year-old Iraq War veteran convicted of burglary in 2013, got nothing but excuses over the 16 months she was at the jail: They were waiting for her medical records, or they needed to consult outside experts. Without hormones, Sunderland was essentially forced to detransition.
The Appeal reviewed Allegheny County police records from 2016 and 2017 and found 260 prostitution cases, about 52 percent, where police also charged someone with possessing an instrument of crime. Other offenses can carry an instrument-of-crime charge as well, but that happens far less frequently; about 5 percent of burglary cases in 2016 and 2017 carried the added charge, as did just over 1 percent of simple drug possession cases.
In its own statement, Michigan State Police said all the children located were “interviewed about potential sex trafficking crimes and, as a result, three new sex trafficking cases were opened.” But that’s not the number that made headlines.
These allegations appear in a civil rights lawsuit filed this week against officers in the Columbus Division of Police (CPD) vice squad. In the suit, two women arrested that night at Sirens say officers falsified evidence and misled the public about the women’s alleged involvement in prostitution and human trafficking. The vice squad raid on Sirens was widely considered political payback for Daniels’s allegations that she had an affair with President Trump and was paid to cover it up.
“Nobody can actually account for what they are doing, and yet they claim these are evidence-based interventions,” Alice Miller, co-director of the GHJP and lead contributor to both reports, told The Appeal. “They don’t actually know enough about what they are doing to say if they are succeeding or failing.”
What differentiates this moment from earlier waves of sex worker rights organizing is that it’s finding support from multiple candidates in simultaneous races before they make it into office. Salazar told The Appeal that she was approached by sex worker rights activists like Lola Balcon, an organizer who helped lead Survivors Against SESTA, and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), who Salazar knew from DSA’s Socialist Feminist Working Group. “I would say it didn’t require a lot of consideration,” she said, when it came to backing sex workers’ rights.
Donna Dalton’s killing has outraged her family and their extended community in Columbus. Around 100 people gathered for a vigil in her honor two days after her death, calling for answers and an end to police killings in a city where no officer has been indicted for an on-duty lethal shooting in 20 years.
Rita learned that as a trafficking survivor she could get protection and benefits, including a special visa that would allow her to stay in the United States, where she has been living for 11 years. But Rita said she is afraid to apply. “There was a time I was going to apply for the visa with the help with the lawyers. It’s not possible now.” Under a set of new Trump administration policies issued in June, if U.S. immigration authorities denied her application, Rita would be referred to removal proceedings. Instead of getting help, she could be deported.
Today, nearly 20 years have passed since Horowitz managed to align onetime Playboy Club muckraker Steinem with Nixon’s “dirty tricks” man Colson under the banner of fighting human trafficking. But the fact of these “strange bedfellows” coming together despite their differences isn’t the whole story. From the outset, Horowitz’s goal was to unite conservatives and liberals, including religious and secular leaders. He had envisioned a coalition like this before he zeroed in on trafficking as the cause—the vehicle—that could achieve it.