Legally Laid? Detroit Council Candidate Pushes For Red Light District

DETROIT (WWJ) Is it an idea whose time has come — Or a step too far? WWJ’s Sandra McNeill says a Detroit man gathering signatures to run for City Council has a unique proposal on his agenda.

Candidate Attie Pollard is proposing a red light district, which he believes would be a way to bring in tourists and help Detroit’s ailing economy.

“For instance, starting off with a strip club district,” said Pollard. “Once the time goes on, we can see if brothels or other means of sexual entertainment are needed.”

Pollard says it would take the strip clubs out of the neighborhoods and put them into one closed off area. Where would it be? Not the infamous Eight Mile Road. “Eight Mile to me is not very profitable,” Pollard said. “It would have to be somewhere in the downtown area.”

So would the idea get any popular support? Ryan Ford, who works downtown, thinks it could. “I really don’t know. “There are parts of Greektown that are like that already,” he said. “I guess it could work.”

As for the legality of the proposal, WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton said the strip club district could be done with a zoning vote. But if Pollard wants to add brothels, Langton said that would require a change in state law.

“If he wants to legalize prostitution he should be running for the State Legislature and not City Council,” said Langton.

But would a red light district legitimize an industry that victimizes women? Prostitution researcher Melissa Farley reports that the vast majority, some 85 percent of prostitutes, were victims of child sex abuse. Ninety-two percent said they want to escape the industry immediately. Large numbers report being raped by pimps and johns and violently assaulted each year.

Pollard does not buy that the prostitutes are the victims of a so-called victimless crime. “They know what the risk is, and they know what the hazards are. If they really want to do it, it is really up to them,” he said.

Pollard says legalization would require stringent background checks to make sure business owners are not sex traffickers.

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