South Los Angeles

Figueroa Street community confronts drug and prostitution problems  

Residents are joining forces to find viable solutions to illegal activity within the community

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The Figueroa Street corridor has faced serious problems of drug and prostitution for years, and residents have had enough. 

Residents in the South Los Angeles neighborhood walked side by side with Los Angeles Police Department officers and members of Saint Augustine Baptist Church to take back their neighborhood on Thursday. 

Participants said the march was a way to demonstrate that there are organizations, help and shelters for those who need it. 

“We have a lot of young girls, young people that need guidance,” resident Frankie Mays said. “They need to know there are choices and other ways.”

The LAPD said the areas between 104th and 92nd streets are the hotspots for hundreds of prostitutes, day and night. 

“Well, sadly, in this community, and especially on Figueroa Street, there’s a lot of prostitution, there’s a lot of drugs — honestly speaking, that’s what there is,” LAPD Officer Jader Chaves said. 

During the march, both businesses and neighbors said that while they were grateful for Thursday’s action, these problems are affecting all community members. 

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“They assault us, they rob us — do anything to us — and there’s no one to help us,” street vendor Victor Quiroga said. He said the residents of Figueroa Street give him the courage to continue working. 

The LAPD said that not much can be done after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent Safer Streets for All Act, which decriminalized loitering with the intent to work as a prostitute. 

“While we are here to enforce the law, our priority is to protect the welfare of people so we can provide services to them before legal intervention,” Chaves said.

The LAPD did not provide NBC4 with statistics on the growing rate of prostitution in the area, but they said sex workers have a choice: resources to improve their lives are available and it’s up to them to make the change. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of exploitation or abuse, you can call 211 for help. 

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