SEATTLE - A disgusting discovery on Earth Day convinced Amanda Koster to declare war on sex trafficking in her Greenwood neighborhood.
“What really what got me thinking was the huge number of condoms that I picked up,” she said. “Between me and the other neighbors here, it might have been a 100? And needles, too.”
Koster’s neighborhood is a few blocks from 95th and Aurora, where she says prostitutes gather early in the morning and are seen throughout the day. She says after the prostitutes are picked up, their customers often take them into the neighborhood she shares with dozens of families. Last week neighbors picked up hazardous litter left behind—condoms, needles, and bottles.
“I cannot believe Seattle puts up with this,” she said “It’s all right here on this street, next to a bus stop. Next to families where there's kids."
Koster went to Seattle police, who advised her to communicate with her neighbors, gather stories, and start a petition to show SPD’s precinct captain. Koster immediately created a website where neighbors are sharing stories of the prostitution they're seeing. In a few days, nearly 60 people weighed in on the site, and all of them signed her petition, hoping to end the problem.
Koster said her research shows the prostitution issue has been part of that Aurora corridor for nearly 50 years. She is creating a task force to meet with police and the mayor to demand a new zero tolerance policy for prostitution. She envisions services to rehabilitate prostitutes and and a police-neighborhood partnership to create a zero tolerance policy toward sex trafficking in Seattle.
“We have an army of people that are willing to volunteer and do work,” she said, adding that she hopes to meet with Mayor Ed Murray soon. “It's not like we're sitting complaining, we're actually ready to get to work."