This morning, members of SWOP and representatives from several Oakland based harm reduction organizations attempted to hold a community meeting with the Oakland Police Department. The intention of those present was to question the OPD about information that was leaked by law enforcement personnel to our community about the potentially linked killings of women, some sex workers, in the East Oakland area. Despite requesting to meet in person well in advance, and our presence in the lobby of the OPD admin offices for over an hour, OPD did not make themselves available to meet us in person.
OPD representatives did return calls and emails from members of our group and said that they cannot confirm the information that was leaked, and that there is no situation of a serial killer targeting women, sex workers or non-sex workers, in East Oakland. Because we were unable to sit down and speak directly with any OPD representative, we were not able to ask more specific questions about the information that was leaked to us.
SWOP is dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers, our right to live without violence or stigma, and our right to equal protection under the law against abuse. To this end, SWOP will continue to work with other harm reduction organizations in Oakland to gather, through outreach in the allegedly affected community, any more relevant information that may surface. This information would then be used to hopefully reduce the potential danger for those working and living in East Oakland, along International Blvd.
Members from our organization will be analyzing police data on female homicides in Oakland in the last year, reviewing the circumstances of each case. We will present any relevant findings to the public. While the OPD is denying any validity to the leaks we received, we believe it is our duty and responsibility to do as much as we can to look into the possible truth of what we were told.
It was not our intention to promote panic or fear by sharing this information. The reality that sex workers are targeted for violence because of our criminalized status, and neglected by society, makes SWOP take information such as what was shared with us last Friday very seriously. We believe that sex workers have personal agency and the ability to work together in ways that can keep us all more safe.
If you have any information that may be helpful or relevant to the research we are undertaking, we encourage you to get in touch with a member of the SWOP Bay community.
In love and solidarity,
Sex Workers Outreach Project, SF Bay Area Chapter