Report: Street Prostitution Explodes in L.A. After Newsom Restricts Arrests for ‘Loitering’

Street prostitution Los Angeles (Robert Nickelsberg / Getty)
Robert Nickelsberg / Getty

Street prostitution — with pimps, sex traffickers, child exploitation, and violence — has exploded in L.A. in the wake of a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to ban arrests for loitering for solicitation purposes.

As Breitbart News noted this month, the law was one of several radical new pieces of legislation pushed by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who is also responsible for a law making California a “sanctuary state” for minors seeking to become transgender through sexual reassignment surgery or drugs.

Breitbart News noted:

SB 357: Decriminalizing Loitering for Prostitution – This law, another by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), decriminalizes loitering in public for the purpose of committing prostitution (which remains a crime). It also allows those convicted of such loitering to petition courts for the dismissal and sealing of their cases. The law aims to remove the social stigma of sex work; it also comes amid a statewide crime wave.

In a new investigative report, journalist Abigail Shrier notes that Wiener’s law had an immediate effect on street prostitution once Newsom’s signature hit the page, even before it officially went into effect under state law:

What shifted? The answer, the anti-trafficking advocates told me, is Senate Bill 357. Signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in July [2022], the measure decriminalized loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution. The bill did not officially take effect until January 1 of this year; but, from the moment it became law back in July, these women say, the on-the-ground reality changed. “The minute the governor signed it, you started seeing an uptick on the streets,” [former LAPD officer] Powell said. “And on social media, the pimps were saying: ‘You better get out there and work because the streets are ours.’”

The pimps were right: police stopped making arrests for crimes that would no longer be charged. The anti-loitering statute had provided the grounds for officers to question women and children whom they suspected might be trapped in a prostitution ring. “As a police officer, you need probable cause to stop and investigate,” Powell explained. “So if I have a law that says you can’t loiter in this area, with pasties and a G-string, flagging down cars, I could stop you for that because you’re loitering. But if I just say I’m stopping you because you look kind of young, that’s a little weak. So, it takes away a tool.” Without the statute, police hands were suddenly tied. Henceforth, questioning the girls—and potentially provoking a violent confrontation with pimps—came to seem a Pyrrhic gamble, one that California’s police officers would now avoid.

You might wonder, at this point, who actually benefits from SB 357. [Oakland Police Department] Sergeant Campos wonders, too. Not the communities, he said, for whom a rise in trafficking brings more gun violence, which often attends prostitution. Not the sex workers, many of whom rely on police officers for help in escaping their pimps. “I think if anything, it probably helped the sex traffickers the most,” Campos said.

(Read Shrier’s full report here, at her “Truth Fairy” Substack.)

Shrier obtained comment from Wiener, who claimed the law protects “black” and “trans” women from being arrested simply for how they look.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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