November 1, 2021
The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor of the State of California
State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, California 95814
Re: SB 357 (Wiener) Repeals loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense in public areas for pimps/traffickers, sex buyers, and victims. – Request for a VETO
Dear Governor Newsom:
Our anti-human trafficking advocacy group strongly urges you to veto SB 357, which will harm our most vulnerable communities by giving buyers, traffickers and pimps the freedom to troll the community for women and children to victimize without fear of consequence. We are pre-emptively requesting your veto based on the bill passing by one Assembly member vote in September 2021 and Senator Wiener communicating he plans to present it to you in January 2022.
Loitering investigations are key components in stopping child sex trafficking and identifying those who would exploit children. In the first nine months of 2021 alone, the Oakland Police Department rescued nine CSEC children (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) using the loitering law.
Identifying victims of human trafficking is a difficult and time-consuming task for law enforcement. Many officers rely on loitering arrests as a method to initiate trafficking investigations that lead to serious convictions for traffickers and pimps.
This bill will benefit sex buyers who perpetuate sexual violence against children and vulnerable community members. When buyers solicit prostitution and buy sex trafficking victims, police will have a harder time holding them accountable if this bill passes. For instance Oakland PD arrested 68 sex buyers and exploiters in 2021 using the 653.22 (loitering law). This bill must be vetoed, otherwise how will we keep buyers and exploiters from demanding more?
Vetoing this bill will also send a message of support and care to working-class neighborhoods and small businesses that will be greatly impacted if this bill passes especially while trying to recover from COVID. Without your protection these families and businesses will be forced to tolerate an increase in prostitution and exploitation leaving them powerless to protect their families and minimize the loss of customers.
The authors of the bill state that they have created it to protect black and brown women and LGBTQ+ community members against police, stating that the disproportionate number of arrests is due to discrimination. Unfortunately black and Latinx women and LGBTQ+ community members are disproportionately represented in prostitution and exploitation statistics, not because of police discrimination and harassment, but because they are actually disproportionately preyed upon due to vulnerabilities such as housing and food insecurity and higher levels of mental illness, addiction, and generational trauma.
Instead of legalizing loitering which benefits buyers and exploiters, survivors of human trafficking are asking legislators to provide funding for exit strategies that include housing, employment, mental health services and case management. The lack of and need for these services was not included in SB357 budget appropriations.
To hear more from Survivors please view our Oppose SB357 Press Conference Survivor Testimonials https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&fbclid=IwAR1kEq8-SCi1jlJUBienYZciUeTl4RGRrH5UhydORXv9jhN_lEEM8dMtT7c&v=oiiaDO21Rcc&feature=youtu.be
Please Listen to Survivors and veto SB357. Your veto will ensure survivors have the services they need to safely exit human trafficking and hold buyers and exploiters accountable for their egregious acts against innocent Californians.
Advocates who are Listening To Survivors