Press Releases

April 10, 2014 - ACLU of Arizona to challenge Phoenix’s unconstitutional manifesting prostitution law in court

 

 

***MEDIA ADVISORY***

TOMORROW: ACLU of Arizona to challenge Phoenix’s unconstitutional manifesting prostitution law in court

Manifestation of prostitution law is vague, overbroad and infringes on protected free speech rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2014

CONTACT: Steve Kilar, 602-492-8540 or skilar@acluaz.org

PHOENIX—The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona will argue in court Friday morning that a Phoenix law prohibiting the “manifest[ation of an] intent to commit or solicit an act of prostitution” violates both the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions.

The ACLU of Arizona will be appearing in Phoenix Municipal Court as amicus curiae for Monica Jones, an ASU student and activist who has been charged with manifesting prostitution.

The charge against Jones should be dropped because the manifesting prostitution law—Phoenix Municipal Code Section 23-52(A)(3)—is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The law criminalizes waving at cars, talking to passersby and asking if someone is a police officer.

The law also infringes on protected free speech rights and prohibits conduct that expresses gender identity. Police assumed that Jones, a transgender woman, must have been selling sex because she was wearing a “tight fitting black dress.”

“Here, there is no serious doubt that Ms. Jones would never have been stopped by the police but for her transgender identity, perceived gender non-conformity and dress,” says the legal filing arguing for Jones’ acquittal.

The law allows police to profile individuals and threaten them with arrest simply because of their appearance. Since her arrest in May of 2013, Jones has been harassed by police four additional times, a clear signal she is being profiled as a sex worker because of her appearance.

“I believe I was profiled as a sex worker because I am a transgender woman of color,” Monica said.

WHAT: Trial of Monica Jones for “manifesting prostitution.” ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Dan Pochoda will argue this charge is unconstitutional and should be dropped.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m., Friday, April 11, 2014

WHERE: Phoenix Municipal Court, Courtroom 706, 300 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85003

Read an ACLU interview with Monica Jones.

Read the legal filing that argues Phoenix’s “manifesting prostitution” law is unconstitutional.

Read the ACLU's request for public information about Project ROSE.