Monthly FREE Legal Clinic- Sunday, July 12- New Northside Location!

It’s that time of the month again… time for our monthly legal clinic! This month the clinic will be hosted at a new location in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. There will be no Monday evening clinic this month.

Heartland Alliance Housing (Meeting Room)

1207 W. Leland, Chicago, IL.​

Sunday July 12th | 3-6PM

All services are free of charge for low-income individuals with current/former experience in sex trade or street economy.

The clinic Accepts Walk-Ins, and you can also pre-schedule an appointment via our online intake​ form.  (or call 312-999-0056.)

If the clinic times or dates don’t work, we can do intake and offer general legal consultation, advice and education via phone at other times. Use our online intake form to schedule an appointment (or call 312-999-0056.)

Got Questions? Call 312-999-0056 or email board@swop-chicago.org!

Beyond sending friendly reminder about our monthly clinic, we have a few exciting new updates about the legal clinic…

CALA | SWOP-Chicago Legal Clinic – New Lawyer & New Services!

It’s that time of the month again… time for our monthly legal clinic!

1700 S. Loomis, Chicago, IL.​

Sunday May 17th | 3-6PM

 Monday May 18th | 6-9PM

All services are free of charge.

The clinic Accepts Walk-Ins, and you can also pre-schedule an appointment via our online intake​ form.  (or call 312-999-0056.)

If the clinic times or dates don’t work, we can do intake and offer general legal consultation, advice and education via phone at other times. Use our online intake form to schedule an appointment (or call 312-999-0056.)

Got Questions? Call 312-999-0056 or email meg@swop-chicago.org!

Beyond sending friendly reminder about our monthly clinic, we have a few exciting new updates about the legal clinic…

New Lawyer!

Tim Myers

Timothy Myers, Staff Attorney & Volunteer/Intern Coordinator Photography by Thomas Alaan – from CALA website

The Community Activism Law Alliance has recently added Timothy Myers to their team. Tim is fluent in Spanish, and is “motivated by the opportunity to make a difference in the community, and he sees his law degree as a tool to do so. Tim’s interest in activism and serving the public interested started early. During college, Tim was active advocating for immigrant rights in Voces de la Frontera, a grassroots political organization supporting Milwaukee’s immigrant community.”

Tim is generally wonderful and we love him. We also love that he he has experience with criminal law, which means…

New Services!

We are so excited to now be able to represent folks facing criminal charges that relate to their industry involvement, in addition to the comprehensive civil law services previously available.

Clinic Services Offered

  • Criminal Defense
  • Criminal Records: expungement, sealing, vacating convictions
  • Family Law: divorce, child custody, child support, DCFS
  • Housing: eviction, security deposits, vouchers
  • Public Benefits: food stamps, medical card, SSI & SSD
  • Employment: discrimination, overtime, minimum wage, unemployment benefits
  • Police Misconduct
  • Education: expulsions, special education
  • Other areas of civil law

Tragic Death of April Brogan

 

On May 1, 2015, April Brogan tragically passed away after negligent treatment in a jail cell in Volusia County, Florida. She was arrested on April 29th for aiding and abetting prostitution. When she showed symptoms of heroin withdrawal in her cell, no one helped her to get the treatment she so sorely needed. Subsequently, she passed away in her cell, despite the fact her cellmate was aware of her condition and tried to alert the authorities. We believe that the criminalization of prostitution and the mistreatment of drug-addicts as criminals caused this death, which could have been easily prevented. The criminalization of prostitution forces individuals to work in the shadows, which hinders access to social, economic and legal services. Sex workers are made more vulnerable to violence. Criminalizing prostitution is morally wrong, and, in this case, has resulted in a woman’s tragic death. The stigma of both prostitution and drug use causes us as a society to turn a blind eye to the needs of sex workers and drug addicts. Instead of being met with health care, social services, and compassion, they receive punishment and denigration.

The best way to prevent such deaths is to remove criminal penalties on both prostitution and drug use. We need to focus our resources on education, healthcare and economic opportunities. 

In the meantime, we need to reexamine prison policies around addressing the health and safety of inmates with substance dependencies and hold prisons accountable for failing to respond appropriately when an inmate asks for help. Brogan is the not the first woman to die due to guards’ lack of response to withdrawal symptoms in Volusia County Jail. Across the United States, over two-thirds of local jails lack detox programs, and each year, dozens of individuals convicted of low-level crimes die due to prison mismanagement of withdrawal. We send our condolences to friends and family of April Brogan. She will be remembered in our fight for justice.

 

Speech by Blake Monroe at Purdue University’s Screening of ‘A Kiss for Gabriela’

First, I’d like to thank you all for coming out today. I know this is a particularly busy time of year for most of you, with the semester wrapping up. I’d also like to thank Laura Murray for making this documentary, let’s give her a round of applause.  Laura documented a monumental piece of history. She saw a story worth following in the puta from Boca do Lixo. Gabriela’s attempt is in itself a major step for the rights of sex workers everywhere. I applaud Gabriela for her veracity, and the courage it took to be in the public eye, unashamed of her past, not hiding it but, embracing it.

In her own (translated) words, ‘you can’t start a movement if you’re hiding under a table’. When I first watched this film, that line stuck with me the most. ‘You can’t start a movement if you’re hiding under a table’. Look at all the, albeit debatably, successful  social movements that have occurred in the last century. Visibility played a major role in all of them. Think of the March on Birmingham, how many people literally took to the streets to be seen. Or the sit-ins at cafe’s, showing that blacks deserve to occupy the same space as whites. Think of the Stonewall Inn, and the subsequent PRIDE parades, where queers rioted for love, marching in all their glory, showing the public that they existed and they were no longer afraid. Even today, we can see this in the Undocumented Movement, where students are coming out of the shadows and standing together to have their voices heard.

These are all pertinent examples of visibility as a foundation, a building block, in the struggle for the rights of oppressed groups. Legislators will create laws to keep the oppressed in the dark, and without a public face, they won’t know who they’re making these laws about. In my Sociology of Politics class, just last week, we read an article from the International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, titled “Subversion of Social Movements by Adversarial Agents”. Now, this article was basically a war chest on how to infiltrate and destroy social movements in the most nefarious of ways, but what I thought was the single most effective tactic was described as ‘Expertly Directed, Incessant Proactive Manipulation of the Media”. Author  Eric Nelson, depicted this as being most effective when : protesters are denied the legitimization that naturally attends meetings with public or institutional officials. If meetings are held, they must be off-camera, unannounced, and, if suspected, be neither confirmed nor denied.  In short, don’t legitimize a movement by allowing it to have a public face.

It’s only been recently that sex workers have gotten any media coverage in our battle for rights, and that’s happened because people are coming out of the red bedroom, and into the public light. So what is keeping the majority of sex workers in the dark? Why have we hidden our beautiful faces for so long? Sure the law says what we do is illegal, but it was also illegal once to be gay, or wear more than three clothing items of the opposite gender.

Stigma. A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. Stigma, the assumption that people who trade sex for a living are dirty or unclean. Stigma, the look on the faces of new acquaintances, old friends, and loved ones, when we discuss our experiences in the sex industry. Stigma is what the Sex Workers Outreach Project – Chicago fights , with educational trainings, outreach programs, a free legal clinic, and social events. But more than that, fighting stigma is stopping your friends from making jokes where sex workers are always the punchline, it’s listening to our stories and experiences, it’s understanding that not everyone in the sex industry is a victim of human trafficking, and recognizing our work as valid labor. Stigma, is puta and whore being dirty words, instead of the pretty ones Gabriela hoped they could be. Facing stigma, is something many of you have probably done in your lives, and so, I encourage each and every one of you to start your own little wars, and with election season around the corner, put your voice to good use. Vote for the Gabriela. Vote for the person who is going to do the most good. Vote for whoever is going to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Or put your ideas, and your beliefs in motion and run for office yourself, especially if you are part of a group that needs it’s voice heard. Don’t let your past stop you, don’t live under the burden of stigma. Embrace it, make it work for you. You might only get one thousand two hundred and sixteen votes this time, but next time you could win by a landslide. Ay Beijo Para Gabriela. Thank you.

Spread Magazine Book Launch- Saturday, April 25

SWOP-Chicago is proud to present the Chicago book launch for the legendary sex worker $pread Magazine. spread poster revision1

Please join us Saturday, April 25th at Early to Bed for an evening of community, revelry, & readings by

Melissa Gira Grant
Theresa Ann
Catherine Plato

Copies on sale here &/or at event
http://www.feministpress.org/books/pread

Thank you to:
Fans of Early to Bed
$pread
Swop-usa

NB~ This is an 18+ event, and a safe space for sex workers, friends, & allies of all identities/genders/expressions.

_____________________________________________
Edited by Audacia Ray, Eliyanna Kaiser & Rachel Aimee
$pread, an Utne award–winning magazine by and for sex workers, was independently published from 2005 to 2011. This collection features the enduring essays about sex work around the world, first-person stories that range from deeply traumatic to totally hilarious, analysis of media and culture, and fantastic original illustrations and photographs produced just for the magazine. The book also features the previously untold story of $pread and how it has built a wider audience in its posthumous years. What started as a community tool and trade magazine for the sex industry quickly emerged as the essential guide for people curious about sex work, for independent magazine enthusiasts, and for labor and civil rights activists.

Legal Clinic – Online Intake Form!

We’re excited to announce that we are now offering online screening for clients. 

Rather than having to assess eligibility in person, community members can now complete our screener online in order to obtain or being referred for consultations about legal issues, or schedule a follow-up  appointments.

SWOP-Chicago-CALA Legal Clinic in Action!

HTTP://WWW.CALACHICAGO.ORG/SWOP-CLINIC-ONLINE-SCREENING

After completing the form, a CALA attorney will respond to the submission and offer information and advice, and/or arrange an in-person appointment at CALA’s SWOP Activism Law Clinic, when additional services may be provided, including free representation.

CALA’s SWOP Community Activism Law Clinic is a free, full-service legal clinic for individuals involved in/affected by sex work, or have experienced sexual exploitation. The clinic is open for intakes of new cases, twice a month, with follow-up appointments as well as trainings and workshops occurring in between intakes sessions. It provides a wide-range of services from advice and community legal education to full representation. As always, all legal services, including full representation, are completely free of charge to clients.

The next clinics are March 15th (3-6pm) and March 16th (6-9pm) at 1700 S Loomis. 

Sex Worker Art Show- Friday March 6

SWOP-Chicago is proud to present our First Annual
Sex Worker Art Show in honor of International Sex Workers Rights Day.

Time:  7:00-11pm

Location: Church of Templehead, 1900 S. Allport St (at 19th St.)

Chicago, IL

Public Transportation- 18th St. Pink Line, Cermak/Chinatown Red Line

#60 Blue Island Bus to Loomis/Cullerton

#21 Cermak Bus to Throop

#18 Bus to Allport/Racine
This year’s exhibit will focus on portraits of sex workers in a variety of forms: literal and abstract, performance, film, sculpture, music, & more, displayed in a cozy, homey, gallery setting. All work is done by current & former sex workers.

This show is a safe space for sex workers, allies, & friends of all genders/expressions.

Light refreshments & libations
Donations most welcome (cash & credit/debit)
This is a 21+ event, and unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.

For more info on International Sex Worker Rights Day-

http://www.nswp.org/event/international-sex-worker-rights-day-4

RSVP on Facebook here

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