Neighbors say 'pimps' are moving barriers used to block alleged sex workers near Oakland school

"They don't care, they're driving through them," said Vargas, who has a daughter going to St. Anthony's. "It's frustrating."

Stephanie Sierra Image
Saturday, March 4, 2023
Barriers aren't stopping alleged sex work near EB school: Neighbors
Oakland residents say the "pimps" are moving the barricades put on E. 15th St. to block alleged sex workers from soliciting outside a Oakland school.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of Oakland put up barricades blocking two intersections near a grade school in East Oakland, following our I-team report exposing alleged sex workers and trafficking operations in the area.

Now, neighbors are calling for a better solution as parents have spotted alleged pimps and johns move the barriers off the street.

"She sent me this," said Rosa Vargas, pointing to a photo of newly-installed barricades pulled off E. 15th St. "The cars are easily driving through."

The I-Team first spoke with Vargas last month as she was dropping of her daughter at St. Anthony's School in East Oakland - an area where young women have been seen loitering outside the K-8 grade school. Following our coverage, the city installed barricades at two intersections off E. 15th St. to deter activity around the school. But Vargas says, the pimps are coming back.

RELATED: Video showing alleged sex workers soliciting outside East Oakland school sparks call for action

Video showing alleged sex workers soliciting right outside St. Anthony's in East Oakland is raising concerns about human trafficking in the area.

"They don't care, they're driving through them," said Vargas. "It's frustrating."

Several parents sent Vargas photos pointing out the exact locations of where the barricades were moved - some now visible with graffiti on them. She says neighbors told her known pimps and johns that frequent the area were spotted moving the barricades.

Stephanie Sierra: "How did they know that?"

Rosa Vargas: "They started seeing the girls in the corners again, right after. They were following them. As of now, the gap is still there."

VIDEO: Oakland police, FBI take action to assess trafficking concerns near school after I-Team report

Oakland officials say city will enhance patrols and install new cameras after I-Team's report revealed possible human trafficking outside a school.

Oakland city officials met with police, city council members and community advocates Thursday to create an 'enhanced response team' dedicated to responding to human trafficking concerns and crime coming into East Oakland. For now, the new barricades are the main focus.

"The idea is to make it more difficult for the johns, the exploiters and the customers," said Joe DeVries, Oakland's Deputy City Administrator. "If you live on the street, you can easily get to your driveway. But if you're trying to just cruise that area, it makes it difficult."

Now that word has spread, the barricades are being moved, the community is hopeful for a better solution. DeVries says the city may consider making the barricades permanent.

"I'm not talking about those ugly k-rails," said DeVries. "A well designed traffic island or traffic diverter, often times they incorporate a planter box with vegetation, that sort of thing can happen here."

VIDEO: SF's street barriers to curb alleged sex work could be violating state, city law

San Francisco's process of putting street barricades to stop alleged sex work could violate state statute and city fire code, the I-Team has learned.

In the meantime, the city has committed more enforcement from the Oakland Police Department.

Sierra: "How long will those barricades be there?"

Joe DeVries: "We don't know. We're going to track the data really carefully over the next couple of months. Then we'll make a month-by-month decision on what's the next move."

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live