D.C. Police Once Marched Downtown Prostitutes To Virginia

WASHINGTON -- The Associated Press has asked the Metropolitan Police Department to designate the 1100 block of 13th Street NW a "prostitution-free zone" to help clean up the sidewalk outside its downtown bureau, according to a memo posted by Jim Romenesko. In a response, a MPD commander said that the zones are under legal review and aren't currently used.

As was detailed by WAMU-FM earlier this year, the prostitution-free zones, areas where police have more authority to make arrests, just pushes the problem to other areas of the city, like Ward 7.

The D.C. attorney general's office has said the zones are probably unconstitutional.

It's the latest chapter in the long saga of prostitution in the nation's capital.

Via his Facebook account, The Washington Post's Marc Fisher digs up an eyeopening story from the newspaper's archives about the time when the MPD rounded up 24 suspected prostitutes and "ordered them on a forced march to the state line" via 14th Street.

From the July 26, 1989, edition of the Post:

The angry line of women, many of whom were dressed in leather miniskirts and brightly colored tube tops, ambled 1.4 miles down the left lane of 14th Street, through the business district and across the Mall, grumbling and carrying their spiked-heel shoes all the way.

A police scout car with flashing blue and red lights led the procession and another brought up the rear.

According to the Post's account, when a photographer showed up to capture the scene, the police officers leading the parade turned around on the 14th Street Bridge, leaving the suspected prostitutes "sitting on the sidewalk, rubbing their sore feet."

The border of the District of Columbia and Virginia sits on the Virginia shoreline, meaning that the those who were forced to participate in the march never actually made it to the Old Dominion.

Nevertheless, some Virginia politicians were enraged, according to the newspaper: "We get all the sludge, all the garbage, most of the prisoners, and now their prostitutes," said then-Rep. Stan Parris (R) of D.C.'s exports to the commonwealth.

Read the full account here.