Carrying Condoms is Evidence of a Crime, Says NYPD

Maddening account from Molly Crabapple in Vice magazine about vice law enforcement in New York, New York. Details:

The woman asked Officer Hill why he was stopping her. 

She wore jean shorts and a tight red shirt and had stood outdoors for half an hour. She'd had a conversation with a passing man. When Officer Hill searched her bag, he found a condom and $1.25.

He arrested her for "loitering for the purpose of prostitution." On the supporting deposition, he filled in the blanks for what she was wearing and how many condoms she had.

When I read over the deposition in the PROS Network's Public Health Crisis (PDF), a study of how the NYPD arrests folks for carrying condoms, I thought of all the tight shirts I'd worn while idling outside on delicious spring days. I thought, She sounds like me. She sounds like my friends.

The NYPD will arrest you for carrying condoms, but that depends entirely on who you are. If you're a middle-class white girl like me, you're probably safe. But say you're a sex worker or a queer kid kicked out of your home. Say you're a  trans woman out for dinner with your boyfriend. Maybe you've been arrested as a sex worker before. Maybe some quota-filling cop thinks you look like a whore.....

And yes, arrest is always a big deal, even if you don't end up convicted:

Arrest is always violent. The NYPD may or may not break your ribs, but the process of arrest in America is still a man tying your hands behind your back at gunpoint and locking you in a cage. Holding cells are shit-encrusted boxes, often too crowded to sit down. Police can leave you there for three days; long enough to lose your job. If this seems obvious, I say it because the polite middle classes trivialize arrest. They talk about "keeping people off the streets." They don't realize that the constant threat of arrest is traumatic, unless it happens to them or their kids.

There are two types of prostitution arrests. For "prostitution," the officer has to witness you making an offer, but "loitering for the purposes of engaging in a prostitution offense" requires only circumstantial evidence....

Read the whole thing, and also read Reason's great Melissa Gira Grant feature "The War on Sex Workers" from our February issue.

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  • John||

    The NYPD runs a police state so rich Manhatten liberals an feel safe. Remember this the next time said liberals tell you about how much they care about the poor and minorities.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Be fair John, it's also so that fat union thugs can have cushy jobs and get their beat-down on.

  • wareagle||

    liberaltopia then

  • Randian||

    Right. In one breath a liberal is whining about the shakedown of trans folkken, gays and minorities. In the next they are whining about the lack of government provided health care, food, education, cash, phones, etc.

    And they never ever ever make the connection. Ever.

  • John||

    But they don't whine about the shakedowns. They love the NYPD and Nanny Bloomburg. They only care about minorities and trannies when doing so in no way affects their quality of life

  • sarcasmic||

    But they don't whine about the shakedowns.

    Of course not. That would require principles.

  • sarcasmic||

  • Mr Whipple||

    NO CONDOMS FOR YOU!

  • ||

    Best condom wrapper ever

  • Rich||

    Too lazy to google it, but "The Original Slick Willie" is not too shabby, either.

  • sarcasmic||

  • Mr Whipple||

    That's great. Discourage prostitutes from carrying condoms so that they can spread diseases.

    Fucking brilliant.

  • Brett L||

    Police and officials
    They make no sense to me
    The ruin our country
    Force whores to spread disease

    To G'n'Rs "One in a Million"

  • An0nB0t||

    As usual, libertarians miss the big picture in favor of myopia over "rights" and "consequences": a cop was able to add another arrest to his books.

    LAOL people can tell you what's what.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    How DARE you suggest that laws might be subject to unintended consequences?

    How DARE you question our TOP MEN like that?

    Be watchful of murder drones, for the night is long and full of terrors.

  • Randian||

    Enforcement is ridiculous, of course.

    Screechifying in the name of "special victims" rankles as well:

    But say you're a sex worker or a queer kid kicked out of your home. Say you're a trans woman out for dinner with your boyfriend. Maybe you've been arrested as a sex worker before. Maybe some quota-filling cop thinks you look like a whore

    Just hush. I'm not interested in perpetual victimhood.

    SLD applies here.

  • John||

    This is one time I think victim hood does apply. If you are a acceptable looking white person, this policy, like stop and frisk will never affect you. It only affects minorities and anyone who does t look like a middle class white person.

  • Randian||

    I agree, but it rankles me because the Vice writer, whether she means to or not, is promulgating the notion that it is probably OK (or at least less bad) if this were (a) applied equally or (b) applied lopsidedly the other way.

    *People* in general should not be fucked with by their governments. There is not anything special about anybody in that regard.

  • Rich||

    Ah, but "people in general" are all potential terrorists.

  • John||

    Ok I see that. But I bet she wouldn't be so supportive if she were in danger of being busted even if it was done universally.

  • Randian||

    Yeah, I smell a Privilege Arguer in Ms. Crabapple.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    There is no argument more intellectually evasive than crying PRIVILEGE!!

  • Randian||

    The new wave is to combine "privilege" and "bro-douche" or "bro culture" into a devastatingly evasive one-two punch.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Back to John's first comment, I think this is one area where "privilege" actually applies. I'm far less likely to be hassled by the cops than most black guys.

    I do understand your point that 'if she's only arguing for a more equitable police state, she can get fucked', though.

  • BakedPenguin||

    And never mind, since you hashed this out already below.

  • wareagle||

    There is not anything special about anybody in that regard.

    in the normal world, you are correct. In the world of the Vice writer, you are a monster who wants those unlike you to be killed or worse.

    If there were no special snowflakes or folks who can be framed as such, people like the Vice writer would have no constituency.

  • Andrew S.||

    I didn't read it that way at all. Agree with John above: This only affects minorities. Didn't see it as a way of saying it was alright if it happened this way to everyone. Saw it more like "Hey, middle class white women! Those of you always posting about victimhood on Jezebel! Just because this isn't happening to *you*, and will never happen to *you*, doesn't mean it's not a huge problem!"

  • JD the elder||

    I don't see where she said it would be less bad if it were done to everyone, or done reversedly. She's just saying that this is not getting applied to middle-class White women. In fact, her comment about "I thought about how she sounded like me" suggests to me that she thinks the policy is bad no matter how it's applied. I think you're reading in something that's not there.

  • Randian||

    Hm. Point taken, but I reserve a wait-and-see approach on this one.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Is she saying that, or is she saying that it will never be applied that way, so it basically just amounts to giving cops license to fuck with undesirables?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    You have no Constitutional right to make a soccer mom feel uncomfortable!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Maybe Bloomberg's shock troops should run a few Stop-and-Intimidate operations in some of those swanky midtown after work gathering places. Obviously, any girl who has a condom in her purse in a place like that is a whore.

    Fairness.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's only going to get worse.

  • BlogimiDei||

    hopefully...

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