Constitutionality of “Manifestation of Intent to Prostitute” Statute Under Challenge
Margie Diddams, member of Sex Worker Outreach Project, Phoenix
PHOENIX— Dozens of supporters packed the courtroom this morning in support of ASU student and anti-SB1062 activist Monica Jones. Ms. Jones is facing unjust charges of “manifestation of intent to prostitute”, a vague and discriminatory law that criminalizes activities like waving at cars, talking to passerbys, and inquiring if someone is a police officer. The ACLU filed a motion to challenge this statute on constitutional grounds, resulting in Ms. Jones’ trial being postponed until April 11th. Ms. Jones states, “We will be back with twice as many people.”
In Arizona and across the country, trans women of color like Ms. Jones are routinely profiled and swept up in the criminal justice system on prostitution-related charges, due to a phenomenon many call “Walking While Trans.” An unjust lack of community and legal support leads most people to take pleas against their best interest. That’s why Ms. Jones decided she was going to fight the charges, so that no more trans women, sex workers, or people profiled as sex workers will have to face these injustices.
Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (SWOP) of Phoenix is continuing to build momentum for Monica Jones’ case with the support of the ACLU motion against the ‘manifestation’ statute. If the statute is overturned, it will be a victory not only for Ms. Jones, but for trans women, sex workers, and people profiled as sex workers throughout Arizona and the nation.
Ms. Jones states, “It’s time that we end the stigma and the criminalization of sex work, the profiling of trans women of color, and the racist policing system that harms so many of us.”
Nationally and internationally, over 1,000 individuals and numerous organizations have publicly declared support for Ms. Jones; organized solidarity protests around the country and participated in a campaign to demand that Phoenix city prosecutor Aaron Carreon-Ainsa drop the charges against Ms. Jones. Advocates from SWOP Phoenix are currently in Geneva, Switzerland at the UN sharing Ms. Jones’s story as emblematic of how police in the U.S. routinely violate human rights.