The city has removed anti-prostitution barricades erected in May along McMicken Avenue in Over-the-Rhine and Fairview, but the fight over the tactic continues. The barriers, taken down on July 31 as originally planned, were placed in the area as a test to see if such measures would limit the incidence of prostitution, a big issue in the area.
Many residents in the neighborhood have applauded the barricades in letters and statements before council. John Walters, who said he’s lived in the area for 30 years, praised the efforts at City Council’s Human Services, Youth and Arts Committee meeting Aug. 4.
“The barricade at Freeman Avenue just made an incredible difference in terms of calming the neighborhood,” he said. Walters wants the barriers to become semi-permanent and says he thinks they would attract the investment needed to get more people into the area.But others have protested, saying they create a stigma around the area and make getting around difficult.
Stephanie Phillips, a recent transplant from Portland, Ore., who now lives on McMicken, said in a letter to City Council that the barricades reminded her of something “a police state” would do.
“I hope you take down the barricades A.S.A.P.,” she wrote, “and reconsider how to handle the situation.”
A group of opponents to the barricades has filed a lawsuit against the city seeking damages and attempting to prohibit any further barricades from being erected.
A report from Cincinnati Police Department released Aug.
4 said the barricades were somewhat successful, especially around the northern end of the blockade. CPD says they took baseline studies by keeping track of women in the area known to be engaged in sex work.
The report noted that many of the prostitutes found on the route’s southeastern end simply moved a few blocks into a more secluded area around Mohawk Street in OTR. But the women didn’t begin prostituting in other communities, the report said, contrary to claims from community members in neighborhoods like Price Hill and Camp Washington.
Councilwoman Simpson said the issue is bigger than McMicken Avenue.
“We have to combat the issue city-wide,” she said, highlighting similar problems in Walnut Hills, Carthage, Camp Washington and other neighborhoods.
The city is currently considering 16 other measures to fight prostitution, including publishing names of those convicted of prostitution-related offenses, especially johns, and creating special prostitution courts. Those ideas were pospoed by Councilwoman Yvette Simpson.
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