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Sex Worker Solidarity Activists Protest at H.E.A.T Conference, Oakland, 6/13/12: video
by Dave Id
Thursday Jun 14th, 2012 9:50 AM
Similar to how the law enforcement-centric policies in the "war on drugs" contribute to more social harms than good, the burgeoning anti-sex worker industry further criminalizes and marginalizes those already struggling to survive while largely ignoring the root causes of sexual exploitation. In what might have been the first action organized against an anti-trafficking conference in the U.S., Oakland Occupy Patriarchy initiated a protest on June 13th targeting the 2012 National Human Exploitation And Trafficking conference on its opening day in Oakland. (video below)
[Pictured above: First speaker addresses protesters in front of the Oakland Convention Center]

Protesters rallied and spoke outside of the conference before attempting to gain entry, thereby making their presence known with the use of an air horn through the main entrance of the convention center. A small army of convention center employees forced the doors closed, including two that physically shoved demonstrators away from the doors. Oakland police, who had been apparently lying in wait in anticipation of the protest, rushed up to defend the metal barricades surrounding the main entrance to the convention center. Demonstrators then marched up Broadway to 14th Street before briefly returning to the convention center and dispersing of their own accord.

At least one arrest was made after the demonstration concluded when Melvin of Occupy Oakland's Tactical Action Committee was snatched by police on a side street. His arraignment is set for Friday at 2pm.

For more photos and information about the demonstration, see:

Sex Worker Solidarity Activists Protest at H.E.A.T Conference, Oakland, 6/13/12: photos
§Full video of sex worker solidarity speakers
by Dave Id Thursday Jun 14th, 2012 9:50 AM
(video 19:36)
§Demonstrators attempt to enter the conference
by Dave Id Thursday Jun 14th, 2012 9:50 AM
(video :51)

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Tina M
Saturday Jun 16th, 2012 11:21 PM
As a community member in attendance of the conference I can understand the concerns and mistrust of government organizations especially when addressing sensitive issues of oppression. However, I truly believe the protesters acted without knowing anything about the content and framework of the conference. Yes, law enforcement were in attendance and as such were discussing the decriminalization of the young people involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of children and the need to find alternative options for housing besides juvenile hall. The conference was also spearheaded by former sex workers who have organized around this issue. As far as "largely ingoring the root causes of sexual exploitation" I guess it depends on what you define that as. But if you believe it's sexism and patriarchy, classism and capitalism, oppression, cycle of abuse and violence, poverty, sexuality and morality in the US, and the universal human rights issues related to the ownership and exploitation of human beings; then I can assure you that was part of the conversation.
by VonManstein
Monday Jun 18th, 2012 10:47 PM
I'm not understanding why these people are trying to disrupt an event aimed at ending the trafficking of sex workers who don't necessarily want to be sex workers. So they are in favor of children being prostituted and anyone working toward ending it is worthy of scorn and hate?

Why should the public value the opinion of people who don't value life?

And then when they couldn't interrupt the people working against children being forced into a horrible life, they then began to vandalize the convention center. What purpose did that serve, apart from requiring the taxpayers of Oakland to pay for the petulance of the so-called activists?

The people who claim to want give aid and help the helpless and oppressed are enabling oppression by trying to disrupt endeavors to end it. In fact, what they are is moral cowards who should be ostracized by society as enablers of oppression, not celebrated as they are by many alleged "humans" who frequent this website.

This article discusses some of the issues as well and may answer the questions of the critics below.

For those who don't understand what is behind the critique of the conference, please also review some of these resources, but generally:

1. This conference promotes strategies that expand the criminal justice system in very problematic ways. Again, for more info, review the resources below.

2. There are former sex workers/prostitutes, former people involved in sex trade etc, that promote expanded police powers in the context of commercial sex...there is a whole movement of prostitution prohibitionists (also using the term abolitionists), some of whom have been involved in sex trade, sex work. etc. One of the problems is that they are funded to promote that perspective, while sex workers who base their analysis on harm reduction and labor rights are often explicitly excluded from significant the Catholic Bishops, who controlled most of the funding in this category (Obama just stopped that, I think) or internationally through a manipulation/allocation of foreign aid.

Yes, I support the decriminalization of the young people that participants have been discussing, of course, but I would look closer at the parameters for the decriminalization. Do they still involve mandatory detention? Maybe that effort by the conference attendees will move decriminalization of young people ahead, but I wouldn't trust that.

This group is a good resource for youth issues from a progressive perspective.

Additional resources:

Youth Policy:

UN Advisory group member, Cheryl Overs on Tackling Child Commercial Sexual Exploitation-

Pedophile and Child Porn Law Enforcement Agents 2010-2012
by Norma Jean Almodovar Author, Cop to Call Girl (

Tribute to survivors of child sexual assault by law enforcement officers.

Lost Boys: New research demolishes the stereotype

Oakland Child Prostitution Advisory Task Force Report 2006 (Mayor Dellums)

Trafficking Policy:

Trafficking Policy Research Project- Examining the Effects of
U.S. Trafficking Laws and Policies

The Naked Anthropologist, Dr Laura Agustín on Migration, Trafficking and Sex

Beyond The Barbed Wire: Sex Workers In India Help Fight Sex Trafficking

Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee Anti-Trafficking Project

Materials from Emi Koyama at

War on Terror & War on Trafficking -

Understanding the Complexities of Sex Trafficking and Sex Work/Trade: Ten Observations from a Sex Worker Activist/Survivor/Feminist

Constructing "domestic minor sex trafficking" as a "gang-related" issue: what I learned at a forum on "the other kind" of human trafficking