Taking Back our Neighborhoods: Midtown neighborhood fights prostitution problem - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Joe Birch

Taking Back our Neighborhoods: Midtown neighborhood fights prostitution problem

According to Midtown resident Patricia Childress, they often solicit customers from the shadows.

"You hear them calling to the Johns and making lewd suggestions,"  Chidress said.  "Yet again, this is where people live."
Women, and men dressed as women, work the streets between Union and Poplar, and Cleveland and Bellevue, in the wee hours of the morning.

Childress can hear them from her apartment.

"I was just shocked at the things they were discussing," she said. "It was very detailed, very explicit."

Frustrated, Childress called the Action News 5 "Taking Back Our Neighborhoods" hotline. In her eyes, Childress said, her two or three calls a week to police for six months have yet to reduce her Midtown neighborhood's prostitution.

Memphis Police Lt. Chris Moffatt runs frequent sting operations that jails hookers and Johns, male and female, gender-benders of every persuasion.

"If you can reduce the prostitution in the neighborhood, the drugs are going to go with it," Moffatt said. "And with the drugs, some of the guns and the violence...things that really affect our whole community."

Moffatt sympathizes with parents like Childress, who have to put up with prostitutes while trying to raise families. The he/she hookers are so bold, according to Childress, they sometimes turn tricks in cars parked on the grounds of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church:

"You're desecrating a house of God," she said. "Could you be any more vile?"

Pastor Frank Thomas of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church said he would like to host a neighborhood conversation about what to do about prostitution. 

"We're not afraid of anybody that's a prostitute, as if they're sub-human or some kind of vile sinner," he said.

Thomas said putting up more fences and better lighting, as suggested by Thomas, will not solve the problem:

"A prostitute is a person," he said. "We see the church as a place where people can come experience the love of God and be made whole. Now how can we do that if we put a fence out there and say you can't come in?"

Both the pastor and the parent say communicating with police and other community stake-holders may take this issue out of the shadows, and help take back this neighborhood:

"That kind of partnership is exactly what we're looking for," Moffatt said.

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