Thursday, May 7, 2009

CB Statement on SOAP/SODA initiative in the Historic Northeast neighborhoods of KCMO

We request postponement of voting on resolution 090304, nicknamed SOAP/SODA (Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution and Stay Out of Drug Areas), which would allow municipal judges to impose geographical boundaries on any drug or prostitution offender, thereby making it illegal for many to be seen on certain streets or in certain neighborhoods in the Historic Northeast. I moved to the Historic Northeast neighborhood to befriend and serve those struggling with joblessness, homelessness, and inadequate wages.

We live at Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House, a house of hospitality that welcomes these persons. We, along with Veronica's Voice and other organizations who serve persons affected by this resolution, would like the opportunity to sit down and dialogue with other concerned community stakeholders, in hopes of revising the current resolution.

We are deeply concerned about this resolution for these reasons:

• It promotes neighborhood vigilantism, which tears communities apart by pitting neighbor against neighbor, therefore weakening our community.

• It further criminalizes victims, while still leaving our community open to the real criminals, which include pimps, traffickers, drug dealers and certainly the customers whose demand for sex fuels the sex industry and perpetually creates more victims.

• It further isolates victims, keeping them out of their own communities, places they've grown up in, and places where they currently live.

• It will only displace any drug and prostitution issues, forcing them underground (creating more violence) or simply move them to another area--all without addressing root causes.

• It attempts to control the whereabouts of already-victimized American citizens, and as such, its constitutionality may even be questionable.

We urge the City Council to postpone approving these strong measures that drive the true victims from the Historic Northeast, where many have grown up, have families, homes, jobs and church activities. Rather than wasting time and energy on compounding the problems of our fellow citizens, we urge folks to get involved with neighborhood faith and community based agencies such as what is offered at Cherith Brook, Veronica’s Voice, and many area churches. We are stakeholders that want to be involved with other community members who are interested in working together to explore ways that address these issues, instead of simply relocating them.