Activists Picket New Times Building in Protest of Backpage.com
|This was the scene outside of New Times' downtown Phoenix offices this afternoon.|
From 15 to 20 protesters picketed New Times' downtown Phoenix offices today in protest of Backpage.com, a classified ad website owned by our parent company, Village Voice Media.
"Slavery is an outrage, stop the traffic Backpage," the protesters yelled at passing cars.
The collaboration of special-interest groups protesting called themselves the "11.16 Coalition," and included activists from the Frederick Douglas Foundation, the National Organization of Women, and a group calling itself "Southern Arizona Against Slavery."
A similar protest, drawing about 50 people, was staged outside our sister paper, the Village Voice, in New York City.
According to the group, VVM is "facilitating the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of individuals."
One of the protesters -- who previously protested Craigslist.com over similar "sexual-exploitation" complaints -- admits that shutting down Backpage.com will not put an end to human trafficking. He goes on to say that VVM isn't directly making money from human trafficking but is profiting from the ad revenue generated by the website.
VVM's newspapers across the country have published several lengthy cover stories exposing the myths of human sex trafficking. The links to the articles can be found at the bottom of this post.
|The Reverend John Hall, rector at the St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Chandler.|
Additionally, VVM issued the following memo to employees:
We expect the entire staff to respect the rights of everyone assembled.
At the same time we want our people to understand that not only do we disagree with the protestors, we believe their understanding of the issues to be built upon misinformation.
You should also understand that Village Voice Media is the industry leader in policing our site to keep underage kids out of adult classifieds.
In their announcement of the protest, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women stated that there have been 50 cases of trafficking identified by law enforcement in the last three years.
What CATW neglected to mention is that in the period of time Backpage.com ran nearly 100 million classified ads, of which approximately 14 million were adult.
We can only hope that CATW will respect the First Amendment rights of the millions who use Backpage.com
In the interim, we ask that you, and all readers of Village Voice Media, support Senate Bill 596.
Below are links to the articles exposing the myths of sex trafficking:
Real Men Get Their Facts Straight
Women's Funding Network Sex Trafficking Study Is Junk Science
Ashton Kutcher Fights Human Sex Trafficking in Iowa Newspaper
Ashton Kutcher and the Problem of Underage Prostitutes
The Schapiro Group Responds to Our Cover Story About Sex-Trafficking Study