Contact: AF3IRM Los Angeles || [email protected]
AF3IRM Los Angeles (AF3IRM LA) condemns the city’s decision to host the Super Bowl LVI at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Sunday, February 13, 2022, as the planned increase in police presence will result in increased sweeps and raids, displacement of our unhoused neighbors, and criminalization of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable, leaving only further persecution of the city’s systematically marginalized and disadvantaged communities in its aftermath. We are disheartened that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Inglewood Mayor James Thurman Butts Jr. have chosen to value profit over the safety and wellbeing of those who are most vulnerable in our city.
Inglewood has historically been known as home to many Black communities in Los Angeles, and as such, police have always had a heavy presence throughout the city. With the building of the SoFi Stadium, countless Black families and community members have been displaced from their own homes due to rising rent, closures of local businesses, and many other impacts due to gentrification, further fueling an atmosphere that promotes human trafficking. Los Angeles is a top point of entry to the U.S. for trafficking, and as a diverse and sprawling city with a close proximity to the border, traffickers are able to easily transport their victims from community to community within the city. The decision to host the Super Bowl in Los Angeles is thus additionally disconcerting given the already high levels of policing that targets and criminalizes women and girls of color in Los Angeles. This is especially true in the South Los Angeles area, which is known to be a central hub for sex trafficking particularly around Figueroa Boulevard, colloquially referred to as “The Blade.”
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that human trafficking generates $150 billion a year in profits globally, with more than 24.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide at any time (which includes 4.8 million victims of sexual exploitation). Human trafficking victims are often young girls and women, and make up 99.4% of global sex trafficking victims. In the U.S., California reguarly reports the highest number of human trafficking cases per year, with 1,507 cases reported in 2019. As for Los Angeles, 92% of human trafficking victims are Black girls. LA City Council President Nury Martinez claimed at a recent press conference that at least 10,000 people are trafficked on any given day in the city.
Los Angeles is already rife with police presence that is reported to be combatting human trafficking, when in reality, victims and survivors are arrested for prostitution-related charges with regularity. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) response to human trafficking has consisted of regularly conducting raids that result in both survivors and their perpetrators being arrested and charged – a strategy that disproportionately harms women of color. While Black, Indigenous, and Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women comprise the highest numbers of trafficked women all over the U.S., this is of particular concern in Los Angeles, where women of color represent approximately 75% of the county’s total population of women. Data from the LAPD shows that Black women in particular are disproportinately arrested for prostitution in Los Angeles: while they make up only about 9% of the city’s total population of women, Black women account for a staggering 65% of the prostitution arrests of women made by the LAPD.
Following the 2021 Super Bowl LV in Tampa, 75 people were arrested and charged with human trafficking. In comparison to these 2021 Super Bowl-related arrests, annual statistics on human trafficking in the city of Tampa report an average of 61 arrests per month, and in February 2021, there were 145 arrests in Los Angeles County alone as the result of a long-standing human trafficking investigation. These and the above statistics highlight that the call to increase law enforcement funding and presence to combat increased human trafficking during the Super Bowl is tenuous at best, and further inflicts state-sponsored violence on survivors at worst.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that in response to the potential increase of human trafficking during the weekend of the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department will be increasing police presence in Inglewood. Likewise, the LAPD has already drastically increased the number of patrol officers in local and surrounding areas under the guise of “security,” with LAPD Chief Moore claiming that there are “thousands of extra officers at the ready.” This heightened presence expands beyond local law enforcement as well; Customs and Border Protection and the FBI will also be present through the Super Bowl weekend. Undoubtedly, we will also see an increase in the presence of Inglewood’s own police department as well as federal agents of the Secret Service, ICE, and the Department of Defense. These efforts are also extending past Inglewood, through Downtown LA, and into other parts of the city.
We, the women of AF3IRM LA, see this increase in policing for what it is: another attempt to justify the State-sponsored, violent targeting of Black and other communities of color under the guise of “combatting human trafficking” and “rescuing” survivors. As the data proving the link between the Super Bowl and increased human trafficking is contradictory at best, we see the increase of LAPD presence, their continued funding, and violent tactics as a failed attempt to solve a problem they are incapable of fixing. We are disgusted to see LAPD using violence against women and children to justify the violence they inflict on our communities.
As transnational feminist, anti-imperialist women of color and survivors, we in AF3IRM LA denounce the carceral state’s current sex trade expansionary approach, which criminalizes and revictimizes survivors, and allows perpetrators to continue harming our communities with impunity. We call for those in power to end the demand for the exploitation and commodification of women’s, girl’s, and feminized bodies, which also means guaranteeing the right of every survivor to safely and permanently exit the sex trade.
We reject the patriarchal access to women’s bodies that is so normalized and specifically harms those who are most racialized and marginalized within our society: women, femmes, and children. Our liberation will only be realized when no Black, Indigenous, or woman, femme, or child of color has to sell their body in order to survive.