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AP Calls For Prostitution-Free Zone Around D.C. Bureau

A sign designating an area of downtown D.C. as a prostitution-free zone.
Courtesy of http://nopfzs.tumblr.com/
A sign designating an area of downtown D.C. as a prostitution-free zone.

It seems like the Associated Press's D.C. bureau is one of the parties caught in the crosshairs of the current debate over prostitution-free zones in D.C.

According to media blogger Jim Romenesko, AP management recently reported to the Metropolitan Police Department that there has been a "resurgence" of prostitutes hanging around the vicinity of their office on the 1100 block of 13th Street NW.

A manager at AP requested the block be designated a "prostitution free zone," according to an internal AP memo to Washington bureau staffers obtained by Romenesko. The zones, where anyone suspected of engaging in the practice can be ordered to leave, are an MPD tactic that came under fire earlier this year when the D.C. Council considered turning all the existing, temporary prostitution-free zones into permanent ones.

The proposal drew fire from gay rights activists who say the zones only serve to marginalize transgender individuals and push the practice to the fringes of the city into areas that are less and less safe.

Council member Yvette Alexander proposed the bill, saying ongoing prostitution problems are plaguing the city, especially in the ward she represents: Ward 7.

But Alexander — and fraught AP employees — may be out of luck; the D.C. Attorney General questioned the constitutionality of the zones in January, and the bill has languished in the Council's judiciary committee. As a result, new prostitution-free zones are not currently being designated, MPD Third District Commander Jacob Kishter told the AP's management in the leaked memo.

But MPD can deploy some undercover officers to the area, Kishter added.

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