33 charged in the massive raids of the Sedona Temple and the Phoenix Goddess Temple

Dear BnG community.  These raids have hit us hard in Arizona, and we are devastated for the loss of the Temples.  Please stay with us as we will be putting out much more information, calls to action, and ways that you can get involved.  To begin, won’t you please go to http://goddessbless.org and sign their petition?  And will you or your organization consider signing on to this letter of support?
love and rage,
Surgeon
For Immediate Release9/17/2011, Tucson AZ

September 7th, 2011 Yavapai County and Maricopa County Sherrifs raided the Sedona and Phoenix Goddess Temples and arrested eighteen people.  A SWAT Team descended on the two temples detaining practitioners at gunpoint.  To date thirty-three  people have been charged, and the temples are being investigated as brothels.  Temple practitioners were paraded in front of the waiting media, and their mug shots and legal names publicized.

Both Temples hold legal status as churches, and no minors, weapons, or drugs were found on the premises of either Temple.  Tracy Elise, the founder and High Priestess of both Temples is still in jail along with 7 other people and her bail is set at an astonishingly high half a million dollars.

These arrests came after six months of undercover operations by the Yavapai County and Maricopa County Police Departments.  It is the largest sex work related bust in Arizona since 2008, when the Desert Divas prostitution ring was busted, with over 100 people charged, including phone operators and photographers.  There were no minors found in that investigation either.

We believe that these arrests, and all other arrests of consenting adults engaged in healing or sexual practices equate to a modern day witch hunt.   In many cases, the money being spent by the police force to arrest, intimidate, and establish undercover sting operations is coming from large scale anti-trafficking campaigns intended to target child prostitution.  Instead, the money donated by a public horrified by images of young children in cages, and sensationalized stories of sexual slavery is diverted into operations like the so called “Operation Goddess Temple.”

In press conferences, Police spokesmen say that Temple practitioners were engaging in acts of prostitution under the guise of religion.  We say that the Arizona Police are using valuable funds, and unnecessary force to arrest consenting adults under the guise of protecting citizens and saving children.

Whether one believes in the validity of Tantra or sexual healing practices as a religion, it is not the charge of the government to legislate morality.  Sex is legal in this society.  Criminalizing prostitution, massage, and healing sexual practices bears all the injustice and inefficacy of prohibition, sodomy laws, and religious intolerance.

We demand the immediate release of all those arrested in affiliation with the Phoenix and Sedona Temples.  We demand an end to police raids for non-violent crimes.  We demand an end to the persecution of practitioners of sexual healing, and the decriminalization of prostitution.

To support the Goddess Temple directly, please visit http://goddessbless.org
To take action and support decriminalization, please visit http://swop-tucson.org

Sincerely,
SWOP-Tucson (Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, Tucson chapter)

For further information, or to speak directly to a spokesperson from SWOP-Tucson for press or media, please email info@swop-tucson.org

Open Invitation to the Int’l Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

poster_small_jpgIn 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence. Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serial “prostitute killers.” While some of these horrific stories received international media attention (Boston, Grand RapidsTijuana, Cape Town, Sussex, Moscow, New Zealand and Hong Kong, just to name a few), other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation. Many cases remain unresolved, sometimes forever. In fact, most violent crimes against sex workers remain unreported. Stigma and criminalization facilitate this violence; when sex work is criminalized, prostitutes can’t turn to the police for protection without risking prosecution themselves.

Each year, December 17th marks the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Last year’s event in Washington, D.C. was a big success and this year, sex workers and their allies from across the U.S. will gather together in Arizona to remember and honor sex workers who, by virtue of their profession, have been victimized  – including rape, assault and murder.

You are invited to join us on December 17-18, 2009 in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona to honor their memory.  This year is especially poignant for us in Arizona because in May, 2009, Marcia Powell, an inmate at the Perryville women’s prison outside of Phoenix who was serving 27 months for prostitution, died when she was left outside in a holding cage in 107 degree heat without shade, food or water. Marcia Powell’s death is not only a travesty of justice and a failure of the prison system, but bring into sharp focus the unjust nature of current anti-prostitution laws which continue to oppress sex workers everywhere. We are outraged and saddened, and we ask for your participation in putting an end to the violence.

To learn more about the IDEVASW events in Arizona, please click here or visit SWOP-Tucson.  If silence is the voice of complicity, then your presence in Arizona this December will be a powerful message for justice to be heard across the world.

_________________________@@@_____________________

IDEVASW Event Schedule – Arizona

December 17, 2009 – Tucson

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. “No Human Involved” Event

El Presidio Park, 160 West Alameda Street, Tucson, AZ.

Performance art/art installation with the theme, “No Human Involved.” The central image will be a physical representation of the Perryville Prison which will honor Marcia Powell and sex workers everywhere who have been victims of violence; a performance piece/die-in and live music.

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. “Remembrance Memorial”

El Tiradito Shrine, 354 South Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ.

Join us in remembering and honoring sex worker who have been victims of violence. Live music, performance poetry, ritual, candlelight vigil and refreshments. El Tiradito is a national historic shrine dedicated to the “castaway sinner” and holds a special place in the hearts of Tucson sex workers.

December 18, 2009 – Phoenix

Political Rally at the downtown Phoenix offices of the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections to protest current anti-prostitution laws and prison conditions. Did you know that in Arizona, a fourth conviction is a mandatory Class 5 felony with 180 days of prison for consensual sex between a client and a sex worker? Please visit http://swop-tucson.org for more details. Volunteers are needed to organize this day!

For more information or to volunteer, please email info@swop-tucson.org

February 23, 2009: Protest Prostitution Charges against San Francisco Transgender Activist

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   

San Francisco Transsexual Activist Falsely Accused of Having Sex with SFPD Officer-
Suspected Prop. K Retaliation
Location: 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco Hall of Justice
Date: Monday February 23, 2009
Time: 8:30 am
Contact: Acire          Acire4SWOP@gmail.com
San Francisco, California, February 23, 2009   In an act of harassment by the San Francisco Police Department, Shelly Resnick was falsely charged, and given a Citation on for “Solicitation to Engage in the Act of Prostitution” on November 12, 2009. On January 7, the District Attorney took it a step beyond the claims of the arresting officers and officially filed charges against Shelly for “Engaging in the act of Prostitution” alleging that Shelly engaged in prostitution with an SFPD Officer.
“These charges are completely false.” states Shelly as no such act took place. Shelly strongly disputes the content of the police report as patently false. “This is harassment and discrimination.” Shelly has been speaking with local attorneys and activists who suggest that Shelly was likely a direct target after her extensive work on the campaign for Prop K. Shelly was set up on a police sting. She did not solicit and nor did she agree to any act of prostitution, but she was cited anyway.
“The police have no evidence to support these charges” says Acire Roche of Sex Worker Outreach Project.” In the police report, SFPD claim that the day after the election, an allegedly unidentified person sent an “anonymous complaint” saying that Shelly was sending text messages to random phone numbers asking for sexual services. “This is absurd,” says Acire, “This did not occur, and of course SFPD has absolutely no record or evidence of this.” Sex Worker Outreach Project joins Shelly in support at her hearing, protesting this discrimination and misconduct. “Ms. Resnick filed a complaint with Office of Citizen Complaints on November 19th. SWOP and Ms. Resnick will resist these false charges and vows to bring to light this misconduct and discrimination by the SFPD.”
SWOP-USA in conjunction with BAYSWAN and other Bay Area transsexual and sexworker organizations, will be conducting a peaceful protest in the front of the Courthouse.

Trouble Viewing Dec. 17 Videos on BNG

I’m having trouble viewing the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers videos posted on BNG from my computer.  They’re coming up as empty squares with a box in the upper corner.  Is anybody else having this problem?

More From the DC March!

Sexworkers take to the streets of Bangalore

Chandni, a hijra sexworker addresses the gathering as Suvarna from Vaishya Anyaya Mukthi Parishad and Manohar Elavarthi, a social activist look on

visit http://sexworkerskarnataka.blogspot.com/ for photos

Karnataka State Coalition Against ITPA
No. 9 ABABIL, Patel Cheluvappa Street, J C Nagar [M R Palya], Bangalore – 560006


POST EVENT PRESS RELEASE
July 1, 2008, Bangalore

KILL THE BILL

Sexworkers take to the streets of Bangalore
demanding the central government to
drop the ITPA amendment process

National Day of Action against ITPA Amendments

Around 700 Sexworkers and human rights activists working on issues of women, dalits, workers, HIV-AIDS, sexual minorities, children, farmers, religious minorities, urban poor, environment etc. marched on the streets of Bangalore today, the National Day Of Action against the ITPA (Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act) amendments to urge the central government to drop the ITPA amendment process immediately. Sexworkers took to the street today not only in Bangalore but also in Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Baroda, Rajamundry and Bhuvaneshwar. The public rally started from Chikka Lalbagh (Majestic) at 3:30 PM and culminated at 5 PM at the Mysore Bank Circle.

Rallyists carried placards with messagesDon’t destroy the livelihood of Sexworkers by criminalizing their clients’, ‘Drop ITPA amendment process immediately’, ‘Recognize sexwork as legitimate work’, ‘Criminalizing clients of sexworkers will not help in combating trafficking’, ‘Criminalizing clients of sexworkers will increase HIV-AIDS’, ‘Criminalizing clients of sexworkers will increase human rights violations against sexworkers’, ‘Central Government must listen to the voices of sexworkers’, ‘Sexworkers demand workers rights’. All through the rally people were shouting slogans including ‘Kill the ITPA Amendment Bill’, ‘Anti-people Central Minister for Women, Renuka Chowdhry – Down, Down’, My Body – My Right’, ‘Our Future – We Determine’, ‘Sexworkers are not criminals’, ‘Punishing clients will increase the spread of HIV’, ‘We want Justice’, ‘Where and Who got independence of 1947 – not us, not poor people of India’

More than 2000 people gathered at the Mysore Bank Circle and listened attentively to the fiery voices of sexworkers leaders. Veena, treasurer of Karnataka Sexworkers Union said ‘I condemn the attitude of the Indian government which does not listen to the voices of the sexworkers and plans to go ahead with the ITPA Amendment process. We have been protesting on the streets for the last 3 years, have advocated with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on this issue and have been appealing to the central cabinet ministers. This government disregards the views of not only sexworkers but also of the parliamentary standing committee on this issue’.

Elavarthi Manohar, social activist said ‘The ITPA Amendment Bill seeks to: bring consensual sexwork under criminal law, criminalise poverty induced sex work as trafficking, punishes clients visiting brothels, allows lower ranking Police to arrest sex workers and raid brothels and detain sex workers in ‘corrective’ institutions for seven years. The ITPA Amendment Bill fails to support survivors of trafficking, exposes sex workers to violence & abuse and undermines HIV prevention work. The bill needs to be killed immediately as it proposes to terrorise sexworkers and their clients’.

The public meeting ended by burning the ITPA Amendment Bill 2006 symbolically.

Veena

Treasurer (Karnataka Sexworkers Union)

For more information contact: 9880223460 (Manohar), 9880365692 (Gurukiran)

Constituent Organizations: Aneka, Ashodaya Samithi, Jyothi Mahila Sangha, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Karnataka Sexworkers Union, LesBiT, Samara, Sangama, Sangram, Suraksha, Swathi Mahila Sangha, Veshya Anyay Mukthi Parishad, Vijaya Mahila Sangha

Live on Blog Talk Radio XBN: Sex Worker Rights Broadcast Network 5PM Eastern Saturday 3.29.08

XBN Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Please join XBN at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Listener Call in number 646.200.3136

Join sex workers and sex worker rights activists in media created and driven by us!

Upcoming Guests

Guest Carol Leigh! Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot Unrepentant Whore published by Last Gasp Carol Leigh,

3/31/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171865]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest to be determined

4/1/2008
8:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest to be determined

4/2/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest: Renegade Evolution Profile of a Henchwoman: Often over generalized as a bit of a clockwork apocalypse, heartless capitalist and generally ruthless scum, the terrifying truth is RenEv is a stripper, Internet porn performer, sex workers rights


Everyone 4/3/2008
9:30 PM
60 Minutes [171948]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest: Melissa Gira Bio: http://www.melissagira.com
ht Unpacking the Wired story on tech & sex work: http://www.wired.comht — and adding more on how sex workers internationally use technology in advocacy for human rights. internet, jill brenneman XBN, Melissa Gira, sex work, sex workers, sex workers outreach project, swop, swopeast Politics Progressive
Mature 4/4/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes

All previous shows are available for playback or download at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Previous Guests include:

Veronica Monet

Constance Sisk

Stacey from Desiree Alliance

Maxine Doogan

Amanda Brooks

And a live call in show after a Presentation by Jill Brenneman at William & Mary, this program hosted by Amanda Brooks, features many live calls from the presentation audience from the Brenneman presentation who stayed and joined XBN’s live broadcast which was being simulcast over the auditorium. This presentation was in response to the significant protest and backlash against the organizers and supporters of the Sex Worker’s Art Show Appearance at William & Mary and protests against the Sex Workers Art Show themselves. As the show demonstrates there is a lot of support for the Sex Workers Art Show at William and Mary.

Many outstanding guests are being scheduled, please watch for updates! If you would like to be a guest on this revolutionary project bringing sex workers voices to the media please contact www.swopeast.org

If you are a sex worker or sex worker rights musician and would like to make your music available to XBN, please contact us as we are in need of both theme music and would love to feature and credit sex worker and sex worker rights musicians.

XBN: Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Many Thanks to The Naked Heroes for letting us use their awesome music on XBN! Please check them out and support them!!! http://www.myspace.com/thenakedheroes

Add XBN: The SWOP East Broadcast Network to your blog or website by inserting this code. <a href=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast”><img id=”btn180×60″ border=”0″ alt=”Listen to swopeast on internet talk radio” src=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/img/180×60_wht.gif”/></a>