Residents speak out against growing prostitution violence on the south side

NOW: Residents speak out against growing prostitution violence on the south side

Residents on Milwaukee's south side say they're tired of feeling like the city's outhouse, with the growing prostitution problem affecting their neighborhood. They say Monday's announcement, by Alderman Robert Donovan and Alderman Jose Perez, to sue the owners of a suspected "bawdy house" is the first step in cleaning things up.

They're asking for more support from the Milwaukee Police Department, saying they feel police have given up on their neighborhood.

Meanwhile, police reports indicate during the month of June police made 73 arrests for prostitution related activities in Police District 2. Police also arrested 26 "Johns", or men who solicit prostitutes. According to police, "Johns" are subject to either municipal or misdemeanor arrest and prosecution. The police department also has a unit dedicated to combat human trafficking.

However residents, like small business owner Grace Hernandez, say it's not enough.

"Sometimes we feel more protected by the people who are selling the drugs here, than we do by the police," Hernandez explained, "Because at least if something is happening at that moment, they will come out and help us with whatever situation it is."

According to Hernandez, violence in their neighborhood is on the rise and it's due to prostitutes, drug dealers and "Johns."

"The attitude they have when they come here, to me, I see it like an outhouse. They will go leave their crap and then they walk away" Hernandez explained," That is not what this area is all about."

According to Hernandez just last week, on July 4th, a "John" came into the store, got upset over prices and attacked her husband. Hernandez says her husband had no choice but to defend himself and kick the man out of the store. The incident was caught on video.

"There's times when we have a plan of action with our kids. If the girls are outside playing, if they hear something they are to run to the back. They are to duck down. I shouldn't have to be doing those plans with my children in my business, in my community," Hernandez explained, "and I bet you, I'm not the only one."

Hernandez says it's a situation that is taking over their neighborhood and police can't keep up.

"I can't tell you one single officer's name and I've lived here for how many years?" Hernandez said.

Hernandez is also concerned alleged wrong-doers aren't facing severe enough punishment.

"[With the 'Johns'] It's all walks of life that are doing this so then we need to focus on trying to get them," Hernandez explained," If you are coming in here with your business truck to pick up a girl, then we need to take that away. If you come in with a suit and tie and a Lexus, then we need to take that away too."

In the meantime, the Milwaukee Police Department is asking residents who witness suspicious activity to contact them and report it. Police suggest taking pictures and writing down license plates and suspect descriptions, when it's safe to do so. 

The Milwaukee Police Department's non-emergency phone number is: 414-933-4444

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