Tag Archives: ri

14 Arrests with RI’s new prostitution law

The State Police have made their first arrests with the new prostitution law in RI.  14 men and women have been arrested.  From Projo:

The state police say they have arrested six women and eight men under the state’s new prostitution law, which bans indoor solicitation.

The arrests come from several undercover operations in the last two months. In some cases, detectives posed as customers who agreed to meet women in hotels in Providence and Warwick to engage in sex for money.

In at least two other undercover operations, a state police detective posed as a prostitute and attracted eight men to “hotels in the Johnston area.”

During the investigations, the detectives answered or placed advertisements on the adult section of Craigs List or in various newspapers to set up their rendezvous.

It will be interesting to see what will come of these cases.  I think it is a first for RI to actually arrest Johns.  When the State House was taking testimony it was discovered that there was over 300 women arrested, and not one John or Pimp was in prison.  One thing that I wonder about, but I know will probably  not going to have a bearing on these arrests is the section of the law about the landlords.  The law stated that is would punish landlords, they could face up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fines.  I suppose that a hotel would be considered a landlord.  Besides the landlord point, I think that most of this would be considered entrapment, but most of the people will probably plea out before it goes that far.

I have to agree with most of the posters on the Projo story that this is a waste of money.  Providence’s violent crime rate has gone up 19.5% in 2008, and the 2 murders in a drive by shooting last weekend put the murder rate at almost twice what is was last year.  I would really like to see the police go after real criminals, but they probably have to show that they are doing something with the new law.  The police are holding a press conference later today, so you can see that these arrests are driven by the media.  I never knew of police holding press conferences when they arrest someone for a misdemeanor crime.

Hopefully this will be the last arrests for a while.

Pawtucket doesn’t want “Education”

Last night I went to the Zoning Board hearing on the CPSH.  I got there at 6:00, and watched 5 people go before the board for variances.  (One was for Regal Reptile, a cool pet shop that wants to move to Pawtucket.  I have been to their Providence location a bunch of times, and the owner does shows for elementary schools and this past summer gave a demo on a campground that my sister was visiting.  Hopefully they will get approval)

But I was not there for the zoning variances, I was there for the hearing to repeal a zoning decision for CSHP.  Unfortunately  that hearing was moved to last on the docket.  I wanted to testify (since I am a Pawtucket resident I hoped it would help) but I left a little after 10:00 p.m..  I got to watch the beginning of the hearing, and the main argument from the city official was the Grant building was not zoned for education.  The official agreed that there were people in this “multi-use” building that were doing education, like the Chess Club, and said he had fined them.  I had to wonder, as a resident of Pawtucket, why are  we trying to fine and or close down businesses that are keeping the downtown area open?  Downtown has been a ghost town for years, is it really prudent to fine a chess club and not allow the opening of CSPH?  Is Pawtucket that anti-education they can’t even see a commercial or even a taxable value to these businesses?

It was obvious that CSPH was targeted for what they were teaching…Sex.  The zoning official was very upset that he was portrayed as using the zoning codes to keep out a business that he disagrees with.  It was also obvious that the board was using zoning codes to keep out this business out.  Repeatedly the official said this has nothing to do with sex, but I wonder how many businesses that go for a license have the zoning board call the police? (Police were testifying as I left).  This particular zone allows counseling and reproductive centers, but officials say that they will not allow for education.

I wonder, as a tax payer, how much this war on semantics is going to cost me?   Steve Brown of the ACLU was there, and it is obvious that if the board does not allow for this Center to open, a lengthy legal battle will begin.

This whole battle began when Donna Hughes sent an email to the members of Pawtucket’s city council.  Donna Hughes is anti-sex (mostly anti-heterosexual sex, you can draw your own conclusions on that).  It is sad that one woman’s radical agenda is costing the tax payers money to fight this in court, and she doesn’t even live in Pawtucket.  For a brief moment I thought she would show up to the hearing, but she didn’t.  It looks like she might be basking in the glory of passing a prostitution law (albeit so far unenforced prostitution law), and leaving the mess she caused to unfold at it’s own pace and direction.  I guess it doesn’t really matter if she was there or not, I am sure she will have to testify if and when this goes to court.  I wonder if Hughes thinks it was worth it?  I guess this is one of those “cutting off the nose to spite your face” deals.  Who is this really hurting?  I know the publicity that the CSPH has received is probably worth the aggravation.  There were many media outlets there last night; tv, newspapers, magazines, and bloggers, you can’t pay for publicity like that!

Todays vote to re-criminalize prostitution

The VoteToday I returned to the state house to watch the vote.  There were a few represenatives who tried to delay the vote and have another hearing.  It seemed reasonable, the bill had changed 3 of 4 times while we were waiting to begin.  The secretary handed out the bill, then came back around and said this is the revisions, after a few times of replacing the bill with new print outs a few people were saying “Is this the ninth version?”

There were a crowd of people, some young women wearing stickers that said “vote no” who represented the Brown Coalition against Human Trafficking.  Steve Brown from the ACLU and Mimi Budnick from D.A.R.E., (both who are in Happy Endings?) were there.

After voting down hearing the bill, the vote went pretty much as expected.  4 people did vote against the bill, but it passed.  Rep. Gianinni was there watching the fruit of her 4 year labor finally make it to the floor.  I went over to speak to her, and she was not happy to see me.  I gave her a card, and invited her to the film, and she said “I don’t know, I am probably represented horribly”.  I don’t know how people always come to the conclusion before they even watch the film.

I have gotten emails from Johns, berating me for “trying to shut down the massage parlors”.  I don’t know why people jump to conclusions before even seeing the film.  I may sound opinionated on the topic now, but while I was making the film I was just trying to get the truth.  I don’t portrayed or represented anyone.  Everyone represents themselves.

Gianinni being interviewed When I did the film, I got everyone from the police, legislators, johns, women working in the massage parlors.  The person who I identified with the most was Nancy, who had been involved in the human trafficking coalition and then testified against the prostitution bill.  I felt like she was a kindred spirit, I would have been her if I didn’t have a camera in my hand.  She was one of the first people who is in the film who I let watch it.  She even reviewed the film.  Today she blogged about her experience.  I think everyone who has been involved in passing this law, either on moral grounds or “human trafficking” grounds should take a few minutes to see what a Rhode Island resident and woman has to say.  Here is an excerpt.

I never wanted to be a part of a moral crusade using law as a weapon. All I cared about was legal protection for people who are trafficked, and punishment for the traffickers.

To fight immorality, I would use other weapons– reason, persuasion and example. Laws against immorality have never been very effective, and have often been cover for worse crimes. Remember the Scarlet Letter?

Morality, like patriotism, provides a convenient cover for other agendas.

Guest blog by “Chris” from Happy Endings?

In response to more raids “Chris” has written this, and I am including it in my blog.  It is titled “What I know, What I don’t know.”

I know that human trafficking is wrong and any one involved in trafficking humans should be punished.


I don’t know why, since the mid-nineties the FBI, IRS, ICE, state and local police have spent millions of dollars and man hours investigating the Asian businesses in Rhode Island and no one has been charged or found guilty with human trafficking.


I know that there has never been a report of guns, drugs, or violence in any of RI’s Asian businesses.


I don’t know why it takes ten police men to raid Asian businesses in RI (with out the help of translators), while the raids were under the guise of “Helping the women”.


I know that there has never been a crime committed or charged against any of the women in the Asian businesses in RI.  I know the customers have never filed complaints with the police about being robbed, and the workers have never filed any complaints against the customers.


I don’t know why a private transaction between two consenting adults, where no client or provider has complained of crime, would be investigated.


I know that since 1982 there has been no law in Rhode Island against indoor prostitution.


I don’t know how hundreds of Asian women were arrested for the crime of prostitution, prosecuted for the crime, and the lawyers were allowed to profit, while pleading women guilty to breaking a law that didn’t exist.


I know 48 states have laws against prostitution, where both the client and service provider are breaking the law, but the service providers are arrested at a 10 to 1 ratio to the clients.


I don’t know why in 14 years of raiding Asian businesses in RI, not one customer has been arrested, humiliated, and ridiculed by police, yet the service providers are subjected to arrest, humiliation, and ridicule, and even have had their names printed in the paper.


I know that “massage” occurs in strip clubs in Rhode Island.


I don’t know why women in Asian businesses were singled out to be arrested for “massage with out a license”?


I know if you look in Craig list you will find escorts and adult ads from providers of all nationalities and ethnic groups.


I don’t know why only the Asian businesses have been targeted by police, media, and politicians.


I know statistics on human trafficking shows the majority of the victims are young Caucasian women.


I don’t know why Human trafficking has been linked to RI’s Asian businesses, when in 14 years of investigating no link has been proven, and the women in the Asian businesses are between 30 and 50 years old and Asian, not fitting the profile of human trafficking victims.


I know there is a bill pending in the RI’s legislation to re-criminalize prostitution.


I don’t know how this bill will help any woman who engages in sex work for a living.


I know there is safety in numbers, and the women working together in Asian businesses are and have not been murdered, robbed, or beaten.


I don’t know why the focus has been put on the Asian businesses in RI, when independent providers have been victims of “The Craig list Killer” and Jeffery Mailhot.


I know if we criminalize prostitution we are not helping the women or men who participate in this private exchange between consenting adults.


I know that legalizing prostitution would mandate health checks, regulation, and tax revenue.


I don’t know why we would criminalize an activity that exists in every corner of the world, driving the industry underground and making it unsafe for all those involved.


I know if sex work was legal, we could use the regulations to make sure all the participants were willing and of legal age, driving out human traffickers.


I don’t know why we would change the prostitution law to help the women, when not one woman in the Asian businesses has asked for help.


I know that sex work is the world’s oldest profession, and no law will eradicate its existence.


I don’t know why we don’t spend the same effort and money to go after the reasons women are in sex work and not the women.


I know that money is the ultimate pimp, and as long as it is financially beneficial, prostitution will exist.  

A vote for myself

My vote (for myself)These past 24 hours have been crazy.  I went to the State House to testify at the prostitution bill hearing.  I sort of heard last minute, so I didn’t have much time to prepare.  Sometimes that is better.  You get to talk straight from your heart that way.  I testified against the prostitution bill.  I had signed up to testify against DaSilva’s brothel bill, but at the beginning of the hearing he removed the bill from the committee, so all that was left was JoAnne Giannini’s bill.

I did not want to testify against Gianinni’s bill, she was in my film.  (Happy Endings? where I interviewed many people on both sides of the issue, and in reviews I have been called unbiased, a fact I am proud of)  However I did testify.  I felt I owed it to the women who were in my film who were “behind closed doors” and working in the spas.  They have not had a voice at the hearings and because I have met so many, seen what they go through in the raids, and know if the law does get changed they will be arrested, I decided to testify on their behalf.

Testifying is interesting, you can say basically what you want and then the reps grill you with questions.  I started off by saying I don’t understand why every year the legislation does hearings on the prostitution law and human trafficking at the same time, it seems like they think the two go hand and hand.  Why don’t we look at human trafficking seperatly?  Lets look at women who clean houses on the East Side of Providence, or the Russian Nanny’s who take care of the wealthy resident’s children.  I believe that those women might complain about working conditions more than the women in the spas.  I know the women in the spas, the ones I know are not trafficked.  They make tons of money, their biggest complaint is not working conditions, but police harassment and raids.

After testifying I went out to a club to see my brother’s band Kicking Hole.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw my own Senator Jamie Doyle walk in  (his father is the mayor of Pawtucket) and I did talk to him a few years ago when I started this film.  The funniest this is I had the picture above on my phone.  As this past election was historic with our first African American president, I took a picture of the ballot.  Like I do in every election, I had to write in my name on one of the write in sections.  It just so happened to be Jamie Doyle was not running against anyone, so I wrote my name in.  I walked up to him and showed him the picture on the phone and asked “Is this you on the ballot?” he laughed and said yes.  I told him I had just sent him a letter, the Clean Water Action people were in my hood and I donated $25 and had to write a letter to my reps so he should be expecting one from me about mercury thermometers.  He laughed, said he wouldn’t help me because I didn’t vote for him.  He was a cool guy, when we were done chit chatting he walked over to his friends and as he walked by one guy I said “Do you know this guy” and the guy said “No” and I said “He is going to be running for governor, he is the Senator from my district.”  I figured there are so many people who are saying they are running for Governor, why not throw him into the race.

Then today the prostitution “loophole” bill was all over the radio.  They even played a clip of me, albeit a bad clip.  They do news updates every hour, and they would start off with a priest talking about human trafficking, and then a clip of me talking about the “economics of this legal business, a lot of money goes into these businesses and a lot goes out, do we really want to close down 30 businesses right now.  The implications would spiderweb” It was a bad clip because it came right after a human trafficking clip, so it made me sound like trafficking is ok if you are making money off it…..how ridiculous is that?

I got to make up for it when the Buddy Cianci show was on and I called in to talk about the film.  He was a great interviewer.  He asked about trafficking, and I said I didn’t see any.  He said “so it is just like they love their job”, and I said “Buddy, no one loves their job, they do it for money.  Everyone works for money, not for fun”


I thought I would have been in a festival by now.  I don’t know why I want to get into a festival, but now that I haven’t gotten into one I want to get in one bad.  I wasn’t really thinking about it when I started this whole thing.  Funny thing is I tried to get into my local film festival RI International Film festival.  That was a joke.  Half of the people in my film are sponsoring the festival.  The City of Providence, The Pheonix, the director of the festival even has pictures of him and the mayor all over the festival web site.  The funniest thing about the whole process was when I asked why I was not selected I was told that the film was homophobic.

I wouldn’t consider myself homophobic, or the film for a few reasons.  Besides the fact that I myself am a lesbian, I have done many filming projects for my community.  If things are said in the film that are anti-gay, that does not make the film or the director homophobic.  The film is a cinema verite film.  If I were to edit out everything I disagreed with I would have a very short film.

Basically the way I see it is like this.  I am fat.  Every morning I look for a shirt that doesn’t make me look fat.  But I realize that it isn’t the shirt that makes me look fat, it is the fat that makes me look fat.  Same logic with the film, it is not the film that is homophobic, it is some of the people in the film who make some anti-gay or shall I say anti-gay mayor comments.

The oddest thing is while I was being rejected by RIFF I was dealing with RI Housing and a member of their staff was discriminating against me for being gay and saying the same things that were in the film, so homophobia does exist and to edit it out would force me to be unreal to the film especially when I faced it.

On the good side of things we were asked to submit to the Traverse City Film Festival.  That is Micheal Moore’s film festival.  We made it down to the final 50 or so films but didn’t make it to the final cut.  As usual he took a bunch of anti-Bush films and anti-war films.  I am sure we will find some place to show it, and it will blow up.  It deserves to.