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Residents target sex-trade workers, johns

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Charles Street residents are trying to push sex-trade workers out of their neighbourhood by putting up signs and posting the licence plate numbers of johns' vehicles on the Internet.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Charles Street residents are trying to push sex-trade workers out of their neighbourhood by putting up signs and posting the licence plate numbers of johns' vehicles on the Internet. Photo Store

Residents at Charles Street and Burrows Avenue wanted their corner back.

They felt the migration of prostitutes to the neighbourhood — followed by the steady stream of johns — was exposing their children to sex and drugs on a daily basis.

Russell Jackson decided to fight back. He began putting up a large, white sign at the intersection about a month ago, threatening to post the licence plates of johns who frequent an inner-city neighbourhood rife with sex-trade workers.

"That’s what made me put them up," said Jackson, who on Tuesday afternoon was leaning on the fence of his property. "No kids need to put up with that. Enough is enough.

"The johns doing what they’re doing and the girls doing what they’re doing, it just defeats the purpose of parents trying to teach their kids that they’re not an object."

Jackson was leaning on a fence at the intersection where large, white signs read: "Stop 4 a Date, YouTube UR Plate" and "Stop 4 a Plate, Report UR Date." So far, between 40 and 60 neighbourhood residents have begun to post licence plate numbers on the Facebook page "stop4adate".

Residents repeatedly said they understood the plight of the young women, most of whom are selling their bodies for drugs. They just want them to relocate while the streets are teeming with children.

"After dark, we don’t care," offered resident Cheryl Richards. "It’s during the day when they’re walking around half-dressed with high-heeled shoes. That’s all we’re asking. Take it somewhere else. We want our corner back.

"We’ve already got to watch our kids like hawks," Richards added. "It’s one of the worst neighbourhoods in the city. We’ve got drug dealers to worry about, much less outsiders coming in to scoop up our kids."

Richard also believes that, once word spreads in social media, the threat of posting plates will be a deterrent.

"Once this takes off, damn straight wives are going to start checking it out. They should," she said.

"It just attracts the wrong kind of attention to the area," added Richards’ daughter, Kerri. "I have a five-year-old daughter and she already knows what they (sex-trade workers) are."

Still, Richards acknowledges moving prostitutes off Charles Street doesn’t solve the larger societal issues.

"We can tell them to move somewhere else, but how is that really solving the problem?"

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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