A group of sex workers and opponents of San Francisco’s proposed “sit/lie” ordinance are gathering today for a “stand-in” protest in the city’s Polk Gulch neighborhood, a spokeswoman said.
The ordinance, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, would prohibit sitting or lying on city sidewalks between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The group is protesting that idea as well as recent police actions against sex workers and others living and working on the streets along Polk Street and Van Ness Avenue, said Rachel West, a spokeswoman for the US PROStitutes Collective.
West said arrests have increased in the area over the last few months, particularly of women, men and transgender people of color who were taken into custody on loitering or nuisance charges.
“Those kind of charges would be magnified under sit/lie, and make it worse for people who live and work on the streets in an economic crisis,” she said.
West said speakers at today’s event plan to question the cost of what she calls a recent crackdown, as well as the cost of enforcing a sit/lie ordinance.
“How much is it going to cost to implement, with the city in dire economic straits?,” she said. “Most of the people on the street are single mothers, young people, and others who are forced into prostitution to survive. Why doesn’t the city address this instead of spending all this money arresting them?”
The proposed ordinance is meant to give police a tool for cracking down on intimidating street denizens, particularly in the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood, but opponents have said it would violate civil liberties and go against San Francisco culture.