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Who Dat?

The Super Bowl Bailout returns in New Orleans on February 7th, 2025

"Laissez les bons temps rouler” is French for “Let the good times roll,” and it is the motto in New Orleans. The upcoming Super Bowl will be held in New Orleans at Caesars Superdome on February 7, 2025, and SWOP Behind Bars will be there to bail out sex workers who are arrested in the weeks leading up to the event and deal with the aftermath.


In past Sex Worker Super Bowl Bailouts, we have encountered the mind-numbing rhetoric surrounding every Big Game. Anti-trafficking groups pump up their donor base with the tired myth that hundreds of thousands of trafficking victims—particularly children—are shipped into the event location and forced into sexual servitude. This myth has been debunked numerous times. Even Polaris, which operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, tried to reframe their stance on the Super Bowl Traffic Panic a few years ago suggesting that while sex trafficking may not increase, the laborer making your nachos “is probably trafficked labor.”


There are several pros and cons about the New Orleans Big Game party that will make this bailout both less and more challenging than others. New Orleans is experiencing a significant shortage of police officers. As a well-known "party town," most officers are typically focused on monitoring "drunk and disorderly" behavior. With fewer than 1,300 officers covering 350 square miles and a population of 356,000, we see the current police shortage as somewhat beneficial. However, this thin layer of police oversight doesn’t eliminate the risk of a trafficking panic.


The shortage of local police officers is likely to result in an influx of federal law enforcement agencies, which have historically targeted and harassed sex workers through operations like Operation Cross Country. The presence of agents from ICE or HSA is not welcomed by the community.


However, it's notable that, New Orleans only made 1 prostitution arrest in 2021 and 2022 and police in New Orleans are now leaving sex workers alone. The number of prostitution incidents cleared by arrests has dropped precipitously. In 2013, New Orleans police made 145 prostitution arrests. In each of the last two years, they made just one arrest for prostitution, according to data from the NOPD Analytics Unit. This marks a sharp change from a decade ago when sex workers frequently appeared on the Municipal Court docket. During his tenure as New Orleans police chief from 2010 to 2014, Ronal Serpas conducted prostitution sweeps. In 2018, NOPD and federal agents raided eight Bourbon Street strip clubs on trafficking allegations but ultimately made no trafficking arrests. This progress is largely due to the efforts of the sex worker-positive Women With A Vision health nonprofit, whose executive director, Deon Haywood, engaged with the department to address this complex issue.


"Officers said they feel like this is not what is destroying our communities," Haywood said. "Are these women really a threat, a public nuisance? And do we have to arrest them?"


Women With A Vision has always supported efforts to decriminalize adult consensual sex work and assist victims and survivors. However, much of their attention has recently shifted to the critical issue of abortion access in Louisiana. We fully support their mission and have reached out for potential collaboration in any capacity they desire.


We are announcing the Sex Worker Super Bowl Bailout early, even before the start of the football season (August 1st), because there is much preparation to be done. We will serve as a liaison among various institutional and societal systems to vet, assess safety, and manage situations between clients and service providers, acting as watchdogs against bad actors on all sides.


We don’t want it to end with this year's Sex Worker Bailout. Our long-term goal has always been to build a revolving bail fund so that we can bond sex workers and survivors out of jail year-round and connect them to services and support that will keep them out of harm's way.


This effort is an advocacy initiative with a service component. We are advocates and service providers. Our direct advocacy model can extend to our interactions with law enforcement, legislators, policymakers, and even anti-trafficking groups, leveraging our expertise and experience. To improve outcomes for our clients and sex workers and survivors who have experienced violence or exploitation, we must build trust and improve relationships with law enforcement. It is not the responsibility of the marginalized population to educate and advocate for themselves if they are uncomfortable doing so.


Our job is to use our privilege, experience, and relationships to achieve better outcomes. Since it is not up to the victimized population to rebuild trust, and law enforcement agencies may lack the necessary sensitivity to sex worker safety, we need to fill that gap.


This does not mean simply relaying information to law enforcement and asking survivors to trust our judgment. We work directly with survivors, implementing proven, evidence-based, and client-centric methods to ensure their safety and comfort in communicating critical information to law enforcement. We provide legal resources and counsel to create a barrier between survivors and law agencies, ensuring their information is protected. SWOP Behind Bars acts as a crucial buffer and liaison in this process.


We are not alone in this effort. It doesn't mean that sex workers stop educating the public, law enforcement, and, for the love of all things, the NFL, which has the audience and the media reach to help stop the rhetoric with a few long-form articles and an op-ed in any of the plethora of online and print magazines.


In 2022 and 2023, at the Los Angeles and Las Vegas Big Game events, a large group of powerful and knowledgeable activists conducted a powerful demonstration of information and education through Zoom presentations and protests that were well attended and covered by the media. Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the anti-trafficking lobby. You can read about their work at www.stoptheraids.org, and if you are a journalist, take some time to read their media kit. We hope they will join us in New Orleans.


We also hope the National Survivor Network will join us in New Orleans and around the country. The voices of survivors need to be heard by all those who seek to rescue them at any cost, including arrest and incarceration.


Want to support this work? Donate your treasure, talent, and/or time to this important effort and join us as we fight against demeaning and belittling narratives that are not only completely untrue but harmful in seeking justice for our community. You can read our statement on the arrest of sex workers here.



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