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Inside The Motor City

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Prostitution, the world's oldest profession, is under the most intensive attack that I can recall taking place in Detroit. Except for spurts of protests in a given area, prostitution has long been viewed by many people, including some judges and other top officials, as a victimless crime. Moreover, Ihe hookers were always the persons convicted and fined for soliciting, while their customers, if summoned to appear against them, got away scot tree. Many male judges, lawyers and prosecutors have often served as shields for the 'tricks,' just as they have for the rapists. All of this has been taken into account by a coalition of organizations, block clubs, church groups, Mayor Young's Administration, pólice and individual citizens. in the current drive against the vice,which some cali the female "meat market." Denouncing the victimless Crime theory, Joseph Madison, executive secretary of the NAACP's Detroit branch which spearheaded the attack now underway, ma4ntains that prostitution is linked to narcoticstraffic and other major crimes. Taking a page from the anti-prostitution drive in Oakland, California, where, instead of just chasing hookers from one area to another, the target is the customers, the coalition decided that is the way to go. But where the OakJand group obtained the cooperation of news media that, as a public service, published the names and addresscs of the hookers' clients who were then hauled into pole stations and the courts with them, Madison said,a similar request made to local news media in the Detroit area was denied. He said later, however, that one major Detroit newspaper has tentatively agreed to accept an ad containing the names and addresses of the customers. The Sun. on the other hand, has offered to publish any such information as soon as lists are supplied by the local NAACP Branch. The Detroit coalition has gone one step further by organizing teams of court-watdiers, who monitor proceedings in Traffic Court where prostitution cases are heard. Piotesters have also demonstrated outside the court against Traffic Court Judge William C. Hague for not citing the clients of prostitutes for soliciting their favors. However, a misunderstaríding between the coalition and Judge Hague was cleared up after a meeting on the subject. Hague explained that the prosecutor's office habitually brings charges against the prostitutes under a City ordinanve, instead of a I969 state law making it illegal for a man to engage or offer to engage the services of any female who is not his wife for the purpose of prostitution. The law, the Young-Del Rio Act, also provides for imprisonment lor not more than ninety days and a fine of up to $ 1 00. The current anti-prostitution drive began when housewives in the Six Mile-Woodward area picketed a motel where prostitutes operated. It grew so hot that the hookers moved their business to another area, Eight Mile-Schaefer, which touched off the creatron of the coalition efforts. The coalition began its campaign in the Northern High School area, upon learning that not only known prostitutes but students were being soiicited by men, mostly suburban whites. Moreover, it was reponed that women could not walk to the store or the bus-stop to go to work without being accosted. But this has been going on a very long time. Why wasn't it attacked sooner? Richard Reuben, a laid-off pólice officer who has continued to work without pay . put it this way. "It takes cooperation from the community. Now we have it, we're bound to be successful."