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WEST HOLLYWOOD : March Planned to Protest Vice Crime on East Side

July 07, 1994|SCOTT COLLINS

For years, West Hollywood residents have complained about rampant prostitution and other crime on the economically depressed east side of town. Now, in the wake of a July 4 slaying in their neighborhood, they plan to stop complaining and start marching.

A group of local activists has scheduled a neighborhood walk Friday night to "take back the streets" from male hustlers and transvestite prostitutes who ply their trade despite the existence of a prostitution abatement zone on Santa Monica Boulevard near La Brea Avenue.

The march is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Plummer Park, then proceed about seven blocks east on Santa Monica to La Brea and back again.

Vice crime "brings down the area," said Ruth Williams, a West Hollywood public safety commissioner and founder and chairwoman of the Alliance of Citizens for the East Side, which is organizing the march. "You can't attract development and revitalization when you've got prostitutes."

The march dovetails with other recent community efforts to combat the decades-old prostitution problem. The city of West Hollywood earlier this year formed a new multi-agency task force to study the issue, and Sheriff's Department deputies have launched sting operations against suspected repeat offenders in the abatement zone, according to city spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein.

Yet residents say the problem is getting worse and leading to more serious crimes.

Early on the morning of July 4, a 50-year-old male motorist was shot and killed by a pedestrian after driving into a carwash on Santa Monica Boulevard, according to Sheriff's Deputy Larry Mead.

Officers later arrested 25-year-old William Allen Wells of San Diego in connection with the slaying, but they have declined to speculate publicly on a motive, Mead said. But Williams and other residents claim that prostitution has over the years spawned numerous related crimes, including murder.

Prostitution "gives a terrible image to the city," said Bill Senigram, an east side homeowner who plans to march Friday night. "If we can march in force, then maybe we can get (the prostitutes) into the outreach programs and off the streets."

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