Oakland residents want sex trade off their streets

A lucrative Oakland corner for the sex trade gets pressure from residents to stop because they're sick of it.

March 31, 2011 7:04:34 PM PDT
The world's oldest profession is getting new attention in Oakland. People who live and work in an area with blatant prostitution are sick and tired of watching it ruin their community, so on Thursday evening they held a demonstration to fight back.

Hundreds were expected to show up for the event which took place right across the street from a hotel notorious for prostitution. An ABC7 crew was out all day in Oakland watching the prostitutes walk up and down International Boulevard and when the police showed up to the community's event, there wasn't a prostitute or pimp in sight.

International Boulevard, on the street is known as "the track" because any hour of the day there are working girls out walking the walk, trying to make a buck.

"This is a hot spot. Friday nights?you can't imagine the pickups," said business owner Jody Terrazas.

And business owners like Terrazas say it's hurting their bottom line because the prostitutes and their pimps don't just linger on Friday nights. In the middle of the morning or the early afternoon, there's one after the next, after the next. Parents in the neighborhood say it's happening in front of their kids and they're fed up too.

Used condoms and condom wrappers are what Demofila Enciso has to step over just about every single day when she takes her two children to school.

"Sometimes they come to the next block where l live and they do their things there and I have to close my blinds because I don't want my kids to see this stuff," said Enciso.

Case manager Chanda May with the East Bay Asian Youth Center has seen prostitutes as young as 13. She says it's tough to get off the streets, but so easy to end up there.

"One of the girls I work with she told me her boyfriend told her that they need money and he's got a kid that really needs help, they have no money, if she love him she would go out and do this kind of thing for him," said May.

Even as police patrol the area, the problem persists. The city has threatened to shut down hotels notorious for prostitution, filing suit against places like the National Lodge, but the cases are still being fought in court.

"What we really want them to do is shut it down and return that space to the community with something that's really going to enhance the neighborhood," said Terrazas.

The hotel's manager didn't want to talk on camera on Thursday.

Another big thing that the residents and merchants complain about is the pimps. They say there have been turf wars, even shootings, and the community wants their neighborhood back.

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