does anyone care about the prostitution in ypsilanti?

I had a surreal experience while bundling up sticks in my front yard the other day…

I was standing there, in front of my house, when a prostitute walked by… And, no, that’s not the surreal part. Prostitutes, unfortunately, are a part of the Ypsilanti landscape, and probably have been, to some degree, since before the City was incorporated. I didn’t, however, know for certain that this particular woman was a prostitute at the time. (I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.) I wouldn’t know that until a half hour later, when her pimp rolled up on his little bike, critiquing her performance.

[Ypsilanti Factoid: Tree limbs and such, now have to be tied up in 3-foot long bundles, or the City won’t take them.]

Well, she walked by a few more times as I stood there working, eventually stopping to rest on a staircase across the street. And, a few minutes later, her pimp rode up on his two-sizes-too-small bicycle. I couldn’t hear all of it, but he had the tone of a bitter, middle-aged manager of a McDonald’s. I was trying to hear what they were saying, when I noticed someone with the distinctive gate of local historian James Mann making his way down the street toward them. Seeing me, James crossed over to say hello, oblivious to what he’d almost walked into… As we stood there talking about his research into the old Ypsi Opera House, I couldn’t help but keep looking over his shoulder at the folks across the street. After some harsh words were exchanged, she was giving her pimp a back rub. He was draped over the handlebars of the bike his mom had probably bought for him a few short years ago, and telling her that he loved her, but that she had to start performing. And, maybe you have to know James to appreciate it, but that was the surreal part. The phrase “opera house” and “shit, bitch” were floating poetically alongside one another. It was quintessential Ypsilanti — rich history, quirky characters, and grimy, illicit sex all mashed up together and put on display on a hot August afternoon.

So, let’s talk about prostitution. It’s bad in Ypsi. I’ve had three people this month alone ask me to start a thread about it here on the site. People are desperate for solutions, but the police, as we’ve all been told repeatedly, are already stretched too thin. Once or twice a month they may round-up prostitutes as a part of a concentrated sweep, but, from what I hear, that’s about it… And, if I know it, you can be sure the pimps and prostitutes know it.

So, here’s what I’d like to know… Do we have non-profits that deal specifically with prostitutes and the unique circumstances they find themselves in? Do any of our local churches have outreach programs? If so, do they work? Does anyone in our community have a comprehensive plan as to how we should address the problem?

And, unless you live in a community that has prostitution, don’t even think about leaving a comment here saying that it’s a “victimless crime.” That’s bullshit. And, if you ever saw a real prostitute, you’d know it. The women out here on the street are more dead than they are alive. Real prostitutes, believe it or not, don’t look like Julia Roberts. Their eyes don’t twinkle, and they don’t have broad, radiant smiles. They aren’t out there on the street because they want to experience everything life has to offer and meet new people. They’re more like feral cats. They limp past with dead eyes, their faces and bodies worn down by meth like balsa wood beneath the force of a sandblaster.

And let me just add, as the father of a young daughter, how absolutely shitty it is to live in a community where it’s understood that women can be readily had for sex… It’s not so much seeing prostitutes walk down my street that upsets me – it’s the fact that they wouldn’t be here if there weren’t men here, in my neighborhood, cruising around looking for women to pick up and fuck. Why would any normal, law-abiding young woman want to live in an environment like that, where they know there’s a chance that every car that passes contains a repulsive man looking at them like meat in a butcher shop window?

I’m not advocating we start vigilante gangs to start videotaping johns as they engage in illegal sex acts. I’m just saying that we as a community should come together to discuss the problem and think about solutions. For instance, what about a few strategically placed signs alerting johns to the fact that they aren’t appreciated? What about flyers at drugstores frequented by prostitutes, providing them with resources? What about coordinating the efforts of local churches and civic groups, and working with the police so that that they’re better informed as to programs out there in the community? What about encouraging people to walk more in the community, and instructing them as to what to look for? I don’t know… There’s got to be something we can do, though.

[The image comes courtesy of a reader named Kristin. It’s from a “Flint Journal” story on a sign reading “No Ho Zone” that is credited with bringing down prostitution in a Flint neighborhood.]

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  1. Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    The solution is maddeningly simple. Call the cops. Our local police force is great, but they can’t be everywhere all the time. We are their eyes and ears. Let ’em know what’s going on, and next thing you know, they’ll try and do something about it.

    This has been a huge problem for a long time in the downtown area, just south of Michigan, and when the police start getting more and more calls, they start showing up more and more often, and the activity moves elsewhere. The activity cycles and moves around Ypsi, depending on the attention it’s generating.

    If we want the activity to stop, we need to report it when we see it. The police will do the rest.

  2. Ditch Digger
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just south of Michigan man, it’s everywhere. They seem to follow the white drug houses as they pop up in different neighborhoods (why are they always white?), and they’re all down Michigan headed east out of town. Plus under the bridge at Michigan and Ecorse, doin’ thar thang.

    They’re none too sexy either. I don’t get why anyone would pay for ugly.

    I’ve been secretly curious if they have price lists. Not to purchase the product, just to know what the going rates are for what. Admit it, you’re curious.

  3. DMcB
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    It’s surely a complicated issue with no easy answer. The things you mentioned might make a dent but I’d venture to say that poverty is the ultimate culprit here and unless you can get to the root of that, any progress is short term.

    I saw a blog recently where a man – a normal, every day citizen – would take pictures of the cars that picked up prostitutes and post them on his blog along with a description of the driver. I remember thinking that might actually impact it. I think it was in Canada….

    Of course you then run in to another issue: If a meth addict can’t get dope money by hooking anymore, what alternative method of getting money will they turn to?


  4. heronblue
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    i must be oblivious… i hear about the prostitutes… and I go out near weekly, sometimes daily and pick up the booze bottles from the street, from the corner, on my lawn or left standing on my fence post… but, I don’t see the hookers. my form of denial i guess.

    i’ve worked with hookers and topless dancers however, because i ran/set up an intensive outpatient group for women in the past, you know in a former incarnation… and women in these occupations are often struggling with alcoholism, and addiction, and PTSD from the trauma of their jobs and the trauma of their childhoods. I say childhood because they often are unwittingly re-enacting the trauma of childhood sexual abuse(yet they’d be the first to deny it until further along in their treatment) — so treatment has to deal with all of that, along with providing safe interim housing & job training. And, by the way, from my recollection, these are wonderful people when you ‘hear’ their histories and lives.

    Like many dual diagnosis folks using — the substance abuse is often a way out of having to re-experience the memories – anesthesia. Just like with our war veterans. The “treatment” in dealing with trauma sober is difficult/painful at best, and not for the faint hearted.

    Its hard getting the right services together as substance abuse treatment (which would be central to be effective) sure isn’t what it used to be… and then, when these women start thawing out, they need a lot of support to tolerate the memories of assorted heavy duty traumatic experiences and the feelings that accompany this… it isn’t pretty.

    yes, hardly a ‘victimless’ crime… only the women involved have been often being victimized since they were children and therefore don’t recognize it. This is the case with many women you see who seem very sexually provocative — there’s often an early sexual abuse history and thus the blind spot and the ‘sexualized’ manner…

    probably some folks get served via the DV/sexual assault shelters, (First Step/Safe house); maybe the womens ctr of SE michigan, SOS, homeless shelter, Home of New Vision Services for women in recovery. As most women in this group are uninsured… or Washtenaw county health plan/or medicaid eligibles… they’d likely have to go thru ACCESS-WCHO Health Svc to access services like IOP or residential tx.

  5. Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Mark, I was one of those who emailed you about this a few months ago. I see them on East Cross, particularly this same one who I’d see everyday walking up and down past my house, smoking and staring down cars. What I did was talk to my neighbors about her and then a few of us called the police and reported it. They came out, and now I don’t see her anymore. But I imagine I just pushed her to a different street, maybe yours Mark.

    I’ve seen them early in the morning while I’m out for a run, all around the East Michigan region. I’ve seen them work cars on Saturday and Sunday morning, and like I mentioned in a different thread, I biked past a guy last Sunday afternoon who had just finished with one along the Huron in some bushes by Waterworks park. And Lord knows you can find them if you’re out driving around at 2:00 in the morning downtown, you have to be careful not to run them over.

    I have a young daughter too, who peers out the storm door at the world, and who rides with me on runs and bike rides around town. And I’ve found discarded underwear and condoms on my front lawn and on the curb in front of my house.

    To be honest, getting the city gov to ban strip clubs and porn shops in the city would be a good start. Ann Arbor doesn’t have those things and prostitution is not a problem there (as much). We just have to take a stand for what kind of town we want to be. If part of Ypsi’s allure is it’s seediness, the sleazy bars and dive chicken joints, then OK. But we can draw the line at least on the strip clubs and adult bookstores.

    You know, no offense to the strippers who work there, I’ve known some in my day who were really nice girls. But there is a lot of drug and alcohol abuse and quick fat cash, and when that runs dry, some hit the streets as a natural progression.

    So the answer, at least for Ypsi, is to take down the strip clubs, and then provide proper rehabilitation and support for those who don’t follow the scene to the next town.

    Because yeah, it affects us who aren’t involved, but there are a lot of girls on the street who who are worth saving also.

  6. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Are there local fines for soliciting prostitutes? I wonder if we could up the fines, thereby making it cost effective for law enforcement to do more sting operations. That assumes the fines would be paid. Does anybody have an idea of how much such sting operations cost the city?

    Quick police responses to crack houses would help, as well. I’m not sure how costly those operations are, either.

    We could spread rumors of some hideous strain of an STD going around–or even invent a new one.

  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    For better or worse, I got sympathy for the actual hoes.

    The church I grew up in took one in. She was from WV, ended up in Detroit, legally deaf, mentally ill, addicted and abused. It took tremendous support from a congregation of 200 to help this one woman escape, from finding and routinely cleaning her an apartment, to taking her young, deeply angry son to ballgames.

    If there’s a place serving folks locally, please let me know.

    John’s though, I may be draconian, but I’ve got no problem posting their pictures on the energy sucking billboard forthcoming off I-94. If Ypsilanti is known as the place where John’s identities will be displayed, I think that would be the end of that.

  8. mark
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    It’s difficult to know for certain that someone’s a prostitute. Real prostitutes don’t look like they do on TV. By the time you’re certain about it, they’re usually getting in a car, or moving on to another location. So it’s not as easy as just calling the police. At least that’s proven to be the case for me…

    And I agree that the underlying problems of poverty and drug addiction – and I’d add poor self-esteem, and, I imagine in quite a few cases, histories of abuse – are the heart of it. It’s a complicated issue, no doubt. Still, it’s one that needs to be addressed.

  9. mark
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    We do have that giant, new electronic billboard being installed out on the highway, don’t we? And, as I understand it, the City has the ability to put things in the rotation, along with the ads. Well, why not an occasional image of a man who had to pay for sex in Ypsi?

    And, before people start attacking me for making Ypsi sound bad, let me say that the prostitution problem, while bad, is not terrible to the point of making Ypsi untenable as a place to raise a family. It’s still a hell of a community. This is just one of the issues that we need to face in a coordinated way, like the Water Street property, or a dozen other critical issues… So, if you were thinking about moving here until reading this post, please don’t be deterred.

    How’s this for a slogan?
    “Ypsilanti: where most days you won’t see a prostitute.”

  10. roots
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    “Why would any normal, law-abiding young woman want to live in an environment like that, where they know there’s a chance that every car that passes contains a repulsive man looking at them like meat in a butcher shop window?”

    You said it! I have to admit this is one drawback of living in Ypsi. These creepy stares are common when I walk anywhere alone, and I try to ride my bicycle as often as possible to avoid feeling gawked at. And really, I’m not a flashy dresser in the least…

    I love the sign idea. I would attend a sign-making event!

  11. Brackache
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget the pimps.

  12. Reclusion
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Maybe actually pay for their time and talk to them. When they ask if you want a date, say sure. And take them to the park. Ask your wife to come along. Have some lemonade, or ice cream. Then ask them questions, or tell them to go to another part of town. And tell them why.

  13. Mary
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Personally, I always assume that those johns come from Ann Arbor. I live several blocks west of downtown, and on a few occasions when I’m driving home after midnight alone, along Washtenaw, I’ve even been ogled by those leering men as they head back home to A2. Why don’t we have a prostitute relocation program? Here’s my billboard: “Ann Arbor, Bring Your Ho’s Home!”

  14. dp in ypsi
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    As some of you may know, I live at Michigan Ave and River St., or at least I will until I move to A2 in September.

    Since 1995 I have lived in various locations across Ypsi in between travel and school. I’ve always come back because I love this community and have a lot of great friendships here. I’ve lived on campus, in the student ghetto, on Summit St, in Midtown on Congress Ave, next to High/Scope on Forest Ave, in the middle of the madness on Hamilton St, and now on Babbitt St, and probably a few other places in between that I can’t recall at the moment. MI Ave & River has, by far, been the most stressful place to live, partly because of the prostitution traffic. Drug dealers and bums on Hamilton St were par for the course, an expected part of the gritty-urban-post-industrial landscape. Prostitutes are annoying because people do crazy things to them in public and the Johns are often paranoid freaks who drive like morons.

    One suggestion would be to mount a few night vision LED cameras on the telephone poles on Babbitt Street. These can be acquired for a few hundred dollars and could probably be controlled remotely via Wireless Ypsi radios if someone wanted to put in the effort and money. On a number of occasions I have been witness to several non-descript middle aged white guys dropping off some of the ladies who walk MI Ave from their mini-vans and trucks. I gasp to think that the children of these men share the seats of the minivans just after the woman who serviced him had left. One time I happened to be witness to a guy dropping off a woman while classes emptied out a the charter school!

    My neighbor’s dog was run-over by a vehicle traveling at a high-rate of speed down Babbitt (all 150 yards of it). Maybe this driver was pimp or a John doing “the loop”?

    I am not a cop, I’m simply living life during my non-work hours. To have to think about dropping my gorceries to snap a picture, or running after a moving vehicle trying to get a license plate, every time a vehicle does the loop behind the DQ & BP is simply not a reality based request. Unless, that is, my community wants to put me on the dwindling city payroll. My do-gooder volunteer time has been spent on other pursuits to improve this community like building a community garden and helping local non-profits with building their infrastructural capacity.

    In my neighborhood sirens blare up and down MI Ave all night long, often waking me up at all hours of sleep. Dogs bark all evening. Prostitutes and Johns leave their debris on the street. I, for one, have Ypsi fatigue and am gonna take residence in an annoyingly cute A2 apartment for the next year, or so.

    If anyone is interested in having me help broker the installation of cameras before I move, please email me.

  15. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    If somebody had initiative, he or she could do something like this:

  16. Booner
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    The pimp is the linchpin (linchpimp?) in this whole operation.

    There was a law passed in Ypsi a few years ago that saw johns get their car confiscated if they were using it to solicit prostitutes. This doesn’t work, as you could be troubling a john’s family even further with his misdeeds, and also making him just a *little* more worthless to society. As much as I love the idea of a rotating “Sign of Shame” to showcase the local carnalsseurs, that would probably last a few days before some legal action was imposed to cease and desist.

    Any effort to reform a prostitute hinges on the character of the prostitute. Why do they engage in illicit sex as a source of income? Desperation, stupidity, addiction top my lists of reasons. Outreach programs may help with substance dependency, maybe even set them up with a job and a good home. But what can you do with someone who has been turning tricks for years, whose entire existence revolves around this pattern of self abuse?

    No, you have to dismantle the network, the support of this operation. Pimps collect money, keep the drugs coming, find new meat and whip old meat. Hookers cling to their pimps like life rafts in troubled waters. They’re the only bit of normalcy they have in a life of abnormalcy. If our PD was successful in cracking down on the real players in this game, it would discourage young fools from also getting into it. Maybe somehow getting them some marked bills would be enough. Or catching them in a sting. Pimps are a little harder to nab, as they’re at the money counting end of things, and rarely the money collecting.

    I’ve lived in Ypsilanti my whole life, and I haven’t noticed a huge boom in the prostitution population or anything. There’s always been quite a few. Its just puzzled me that I’ve seen some of these women going at this trade for 5-10 years and still they’re here.

  17. Normal Park resident, what's so normal?
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I agree, take pictures of the John’s put them in the paper, on billboards, on websites…humiliate them as they deserve to be humiliated for their despicable behavior. Those are the real criminals.

    I would be happy to help but we are not in a position to help financially. However, assistance with installing cameras is something we can do.

    We live in Normal Park so we don’t see them in our neighborhood (thankfully) but if we did I would be much more angry than I am now just thinking about it. The whole thing is unreal.

  18. CD
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Not to blame the churches, but what kinds of good works do they do? Are there soup kitchens in Ypsilanti? I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know. I do know about a community clothes closet, but I don’t believe there’s a tie to a church.

  19. CD
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Why are you moving to Ann Arbor, DP? Prostitutes? Taxes? General “Ypsi burnout”?

  20. UBU
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Well, what I want to know is what this guy Mann is doing lugging around his “distinctive gate.” Is it for some historical exhibit, or just to bop street criminals upside the head? If he lives in Ypsilanti I think he’d be better off keeping it where it belongs, securely locked!

  21. UBU
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it’s more of a “log lady” type thing — the “gate guy.”

  22. Posted August 13, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I’ve gotta disagree a bit with what you said earlier. If a scantily clad woman you don’t know is walking through your neighborhood and she asks you if you want a “date,” you can be sure that you have either magically developed the likeness of Viggo Mortenson or Daniel Day Lewis, or she’s probably a hooker.

    Or, if she has a pimp in tow, she’s probably a hooker.

    I don’t know where you live, but in my neighborhood, we all pretty much know one another, so it’s fairly obvious when someone who doesn’t live in the vicinity is up to something.

    I still say call the police. So long as there is demand for hookers, there will be supply. The problem isn’t going to magically go away. Prostitutes and their pimps do it to make money, not to get hassled. If we cause them to be hassled by taking a minute or two to call the cops when we see the activity, it will move out of town.

    The only catch is everyone has to pitch in. We can’t expect the police to be everywhere all the time, and we can’t expect our neighbors to call for us. We have to take collective responsibility for reporting the activity, or it will just move from one neighborhood to another.

  23. Posted August 13, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    i thought this was an interesting article on the subject.

  24. Posted August 13, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    This one also…

  25. John who is not a John
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Just now I Googled “prostitute + ypsilanti” and guess what came back in the #1 spot. That’s right, this post.

    My guess is that a lot of prospective Johns will be here soon, if they aren’t hear already.

  26. dp in ypsi
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Great info, John! Maybe we should use the internet traffic to promote a truly bizarre shadow art fair every weekend, and set up art and trinket booths along MI Ave from 12am – 4am. Bring your kids, tattoos, piercings, Vespas and mingle with prostitutes, johns and pimps. After all, if there were legit commerce going on (a-la the Water St. disaster, thank you former Mayor and current/former members of council), this would be less an issue, if not gone completely.

    Mark, the solution to the questions you pose is economic development and eventual reuse of the properties that now house blighted motels. Economic development, in turn, requires investors with vision and capital to risk in exchange for long term returns… but none of this is news.

    It appears the incubator is dead for now, but there is still momentum among the Eastern Leaders Group and a boatload of the people in this community and county to push things in a more positive direction. I’m confident that Murdock and Bodary on the council will be a great step forward for the administration of this community.

    Since we have to clean up the Water Street mess anyway, perhaps we could start a community fund in support of a minor league ball park and office condo development for the development via this site. I’ll make the first donation when the account is opened. If a ball park comes to fruition, I’d very likely buy a house here too.

  27. Brackache
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I spect the churches are focussing their prostitute outreaches in the form of prison ministries, hospital ministries, and councelling for whoever wants it. How else would they do it? Set up a big circus tent for a Save the Prostitutes Revival and expect them all to come a-runnin? Seriously.

    It’s hard to reach out to screwed-up friends and family members who have abuse issues, addictions, and are involved in crime, let alone complete strangers.

  28. Chicken Head
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    In most cases, fried chicken is available on the very same block as prostitutes.

    Does anyone really think this is just a coincidence or are we willing to admit fried chicken is a gateway drug to fast food style blow jobs?

    Both will be delivered to your vehicle, and a serving of each will cost about the same amount.

  29. mark
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    They must have a different kind of prostitute on your street, Cam. The ones downtown aren’t scantily clad. For the most part, they wear big clothes, like sweatshirts and acid wash jeans that are a few sizes too big. And the pimps don’t wear signs, or, for that matter, even velvet suits. The only way you know for sure is if a woman walks past your house several times, or if you happen to see a man following her at a distance, who, on occasion, comes up alongside her and says something before dropping back again to watch. Or, of course, if she leans over to talk to someone in a car and haggle over the price of a blow job. And, in those cases, you still aren’t absolutely sure. Or, at least I’m not. Then again, I’m a card carrying member of the ACLU. Sometimes you know it for sure, though, like the time the pimp threw the rock into the back of a car outside the Tap Room, causing the car to come screeching to a halt, and a prostitute to come jumping out of the passenger side. That time, I did call the police… But, no, I don’t call the police every time I see a sickly woman or a young black man walking down the street.

  30. Off with the chicken head already
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    True, but the former only puts pounds around your waist, the latter offers a special opportunity to share the gift that keeps on giving with your significant other or spouse – O the joy of sharing STDs with those who (used to) love you!

  31. Brackache
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, mark, I can spot ’em pretty easy. That’s part of their job. They have a distinctive gait.

  32. Good on ya
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m really proud of mark’s audience for not yet taking the easy dark humor road and suggesting a serial killer.

  33. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only started working on inventing an STD that we can spread rumors about–that it’s sweeping through the Ypsi prostitute population. Here is one I came up with: Burning Penile Pustuloma. It scares me.

    You can just drop a line about it to people you see around town–best if said loudly, but believably, where it can be overheard by many. Just say something like this:

    “Oh man, I took my nephew to the ER to get his ankle looked at, and I saw this dude having a seizure from the BPP. He was begging to have his penis chopped off. The guy was in serious pain.”
    Then someone can ask, “BPP? What’s that?”
    “It’s Burning Penile Pustuloma–basically fire tumors on the penis. Apparently it’s an STD being spread throughout Ypsi’s prostitutes. It’s incurable, and it burns through condoms.”

    Yah, I’m not so good at authentic dialog. But people can come up with their own stories. It could work. As soon as school starts, I’ll probably spread the rumor at the high school where I work (I just have to double check the contract and make sure it’s okay to fabricate STD rumors). Can anybody come up with a better name for a new, vicious STD?

  34. applejack
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    A couple of people here have suggested mounting video cameras around ypsi to catch the pimps and johns. I’m not saying that I’m a hundred percent supportive of video surveillance in general, but I do think if set up by the ypsi police in some crime hot-spots and used effectively it could be a big help for our undermanned and underfunded police force.
    They would be an instant crime deterrent just by their presence, and I would imagine they’d help in solving crimes that do happen.
    On the other hand it may just push the prostitutes to a different street, and of course solving crimes is great unless the jails are too full to hold onto the criminals.
    The main questions are a) whether it’s an effective use of limited moneys, b) whether it’s a fair trade-off in terms of the civil liberties being infringed, and c) whether we can set up enough cameras to push our pimps and hoes out into the township to conduct their business

  35. Citizen Blogger
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    “push our pimps and hoes out into the township to conduct their business”

    I understand that one of the issues in the past has been somewhat apathetic support from the Sheriff’s Department, which provides police coverage in the Township. Our police can push the prostitution to the Township, but get no help cleaning it up, and the women and pimps and johns just come back as soon as the police move to the next call.

    Perhaps with a new Sheriff coming in, the city will be able to get some support in actually catching and addressing the problem, instead of just pushing it around.

  36. schutzman
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    We’ve had decades of city leaders treating ypsilanti like a bedroom community, with the result being that now the only available work involves something normally done in bedrooms.

    I’ve never been good at defining irony, but I think this might possibly qualify.

  37. the injector
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    locking up women who sell their bodies for cash, crack, and/or food is not going to solve the problem of prostitution in any city. this is not a new conversation. various areas of ypsi have had policing crack downs and the business just moved to other streets.

    as heronblue so eloquently pointed out, many many of the women who are selling their bodies on the streets of ypsi have been victims of severe sexual abuse. if they are sent to jail or prison, they are not going to get the services they need to deal with PTSD and addictions.

    strong community based drug and alcohol treatment programs for low income and non-legitimate work working people have to be expanded or we will continue to contribute to the cycle of moving around desperate people to someone else’s backyard (or moving them to prison where they will most likely be further traumatized by the sheer anguish that is connected to caging people up) and never get at the roots of what causes a woman to develop a blank, drug induced stare and trick her body on the streets.

    If we could offer food and shelter and a safe place away from pimps and the streets, maybe we could begin to help some women help themselves.

    but state programs and non-profits are overwhelmed and full capacity…

    maybe it would help to start shifting the nearly 2 billion dollars of state (taxpayers’) money spent on prisons in MI to effective community programming and housing and education.

  38. applejack
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Cousin Geoff:
    Your comment suggests that you want to kick the deja vu out of ypsi — and I think that would be great too — but from what I understand the laws we have now can only prevent new strip clubs from opening not close down ones currently operating.
    I got my info from an older post on this blog:
    you gotta scroll about halfway down the page to see the discussion about the vu

  39. Meta
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    The Sheriff’s Dpt arrested 10 Johns last night in undercover stings:

  40. js
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    “I’m really proud of mark’s audience for not yet taking the easy dark humor road and suggesting a serial killer.”

    That’s because Ypsi serial killers only go after nurses and co-eds.

    In a lot of ways, this is like the discussion over drugs. With careful legislation and social engineering, sure, yeah, victimless crime. As it stands? Not so much.

    I disagree with Geoff regarding the Vu, even though I’m not a huge fan. The girls that work there generally don’t become prostitutes, at least not without a pretty massive life change. They make orders of magnitude more money stripping than prostitutes do.

    But without having effective enforcement of current laws and addressing the underlying problems? Not so much hope of progress. I will note, however, that studies have shown that the image of eyes is more effective in curtailing illicit behavior than just cameras.

  41. applejack
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Posting big eye images all over town sounds even more creepy than real cameras. but also kinda cool.

  42. Posted August 14, 2008 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    You are true liberals getting in the way of small business. Any conservative would have no problem with this expression of the free market system.

  43. Posted August 14, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Why is no one talking about making it legit and fixing it that way? Harm reduction could go a long way to taking some of the pain and risk out of something that is inherently risky and painful (both physically and mentally). We talk a great deal about the decriminalization of drugs and how taking the financial gain out of the criminal element would reduce drug use and the potential for drug overdose or sale to minors by effectively controlling it. Why can’t prostitution be dealt with in a similar fashion? Give them a place that they can use (out near Leggs maybe?), make sure they get tested regularly and offer them a central location to get info on how to get out. The business is not going to go away. So why not just take control of it?

    And yes, I know what a hooker looks like. I live on Miles Street. I have hookers and they look bad.

  44. egpenet
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I suggested legalization on one of these threads a long time ago.

    Legalize it … and regulate it.

    Register all prostitutes for a $150 registration fee plus proof of medical examination … no STDs, no HIV. Rexams every three months, initaled by doctor.

    Give reguistration monies and fines to Hope Clinic & Corner Health.

    Make pimping a felony with $1000 fine for first offense, fine plus jail time on second offense.

    Tack 30-day loss of prostitution registration a fine for street solicitation, and tack on loss of registration plus a $100 fine for second offense.

  45. Oliva
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Just gotta say, what a fine piece of writing (being/observing/ruminating/strategizing/wondering) that was, MM. Thank you–a piece that surely will earn a place in a future collection of your writing. Real heart to it–and magic, in that James Mann walked up during the occasion, the too-small bike, wow.

    Still, what to do? The phrase FREE SEX keeps coming to mind, as in liberate it–as if there could be a different kind of society and wouldn’t be the need for this unhealthy, unsafe, soul-destroying approach. But imagining a better way without even really believing that such a one could/would exist isn’t helpful. I appreciate your questions and suggestions–such as, do we have nonprofits wanting to reach out and help these women away from a dangerous, unfair, unhappy life?

  46. Brackache
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    So, like, a charity that gives away free sex to undercut the prostitutes’ customer base? What’s stopping you? No laws against giving it up for free to any and everyone, are there?

    Although I think the existance of frat boys kinda sheds some doubt on the theory that getting as much free ass as you want makes you a better person.

  47. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking of suggesting legalizing it locally, and building some super brothel on the Water Street property, but I wasn’t sure about the overall effect it would have on our community. In Nevada, prostitution is legal in some places–but they are out of town, right? They aren’t right in the city, I think. And I bet they cost more than crack whore prostitutes. So, we still might wind up have crack whore prostitutes walking down the street. And my research on the effects (watching some CSI episodes) tells me that legalized prostitution leads to MURDER!

    I would love to have some data to look at. And is it a possibility in Michigan for a local government to legalize prostitution?

  48. publius
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I knew a woman who worked in a Detroit human service agency that had a lot of clients who were prostitutes. The agency wanted to help give “sex workers” better career options. So they created a pole stripping class. My friend was offended and eventually persuaded the organization to try a different tack. Calling prostitutes, sex workers, legitimizes their victimization in some way and leads to fuzzy thinking. I’m glad the people who frequent this site know better.

  49. Posted August 15, 2008 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Prostitution has been a major problem for the River/Babbitt area for years. Over the last eight years my wife, neighbors and I have taken photos, auto plates, discriptions, followed Johns with their pick ups, organized, held neighborhood meetings, ran for council, and called the police. (repeatively and they do show up, but too late to do anything, most of the time)

    This has been the response over the years:

    Cheryl Farmer stating that we need to keep the prostitution issue from coming up in city council because it would get covered by the press and more Johns would find out about Ypsi and pick up prostitutes.

    The inability of any female between the age of 12 and 50 to walk our neighborhood alone and not get propositioned. My wife, neighbors and neighbor’s pre-teen daughter have had such experiences.

    Witness to the drain on Photo Street backed up after a rainfall. Reason? Easily, two dozen condoms and wrapers mixing with leaves and twigs. (be careful Mark) The Sidetrack’s annex parking was a favorite transaction site for awhile.

    Takeover of an abandon house on River and Babbitt by pimps, drug dealers and prosistitutes. (since reclaim – a success!) This lead to a very difficult six months. What almost drove us out of the city was an inncident one warm summer Sunday morning when a pimp was choking his “girl” outside our front door. I’m ten yards away seperated by just a screen pleading for the police to show up. They did, 20 minutes later. Prior to that incident, our neighbors and I would call the police and wonder why everyone took off before they arrived. One night we got closer than we should and called while on the corner. We could hear the police dispatcher give the call out to the officers. They had a police scanner. Police arrive they’re gone and we tell them what happen. The house was eventually raided.

    Listened to gas station employees complain that they call the police, but the police tell them they can’t do anything. This may be true, but it breaths a hopelessness into the issue. Hey, the cops say they can’t do anything why should I care?

    Picked up countless used condoms, wrapers and the occasional needle/pipe from our yard.

    Returning to our Ypsi house a month ago I went up to the corner gas station to buy some milk for my son. I couldn’t believe how many girls were working that section of Michigan Ave. (counted 5, two yelling at the top of their lungs on how they need some “dick”) It was the worst I’d seen. As I looked around my heart sank. I love Ypsi, but every time I return I’m reminded how it’s beginning to look like the neighborhood of my childhood in SW Detroit.

    There is much more I can add. I hope more people get active in solving this issue. What I have found that works best is taking pictures, real or imagined. My wife and I have had long discussions with Johns after we’ve photographed them. These guys give excuses, tell us they were just helping out or drive off in a bit of a haste. The girl is usually cussing us out afterwards. Business is business and once you disturb em they move on.

    In the past the mayor and city council showed little interest in curbing prostitution. We have been told it doesn’t exist, deal with it or move.

    If Ypsi is to survive it needs to make the city safe for women to walk at night, children to be secure on their lawns and our streets less populated by Johns. Only the citizens can solve it, but we all have to realize there is a problem. Please don’t tell people what they see isn’t real, is only a once in awhile incident or is everywhere. That is defeatism. Ypsi needs a solution to its prostitution problem. Admit its there and solve it.

  50. mark
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks for taking the time to leave this comment, Keith.

  51. Posted August 15, 2008 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    More power to ya, Keith. I get condoms in my yard, too, and I’m considerably north of River/Babbitt. They make a distinctive sound when run over by an unsuspecting lawnmower.

    I love the ideas of eyes posted on the poles, but I’m against cameras. I simply don’t think it’s a good idea to invite the gov’t to engage in 24 hour surveillance of any neighborhood. If people want to do it privately, that’s one thing, but for the gov’t to do it (even for noble purposes) is, I feel a step we ought to be very cautious before taking.

  52. EoS
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I’m with Dirtgrain on this one. Build a brothel on the Water St. property. 1/2 the building could house social services and a health clinic, the other half for the brothel. It would increase foot traffic downtown and be a boon for the local bars, restaurants, and the Vu. And it would keep the girls, condoms, drugs and their pimps out of the neighborhoods. Sandwich the building in the middle of the property and you can still develop along both Michigan Ave. and the riverfront. The city would definitely be on their way to becoming Porn Capitol of the State!

  53. nearby
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    My thought was: lots of the local politicians post on other threads– but silence here….

  54. Steve Swan
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    There’s this guy we call Iron Larry. It takes him FOREVER to ‘get done’. If you want I can have him roll through Ytown. He could tie up your local talent for hours and hours, keeping em off the street.

  55. Posted August 15, 2008 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I’m with Ed — it should be legalized and regulated. It would solve street prostitution, too, because who would pick up a street prostitute if they could get a clean certified one at a House? FWIW, a friend of mine who lives on East Michigan and I went cruising, looking for prostitutes last night. She sees them all the time in her neighborhood. We drove through Riley Court, thru three trailer parks, thru a couple of the motel parking lots. The one prostitute we found was at the laundromat along that stretch. Probably few were out due to the other night’s sting. Wouldn’t legalization entail a change to state law, however?

  56. Posted August 15, 2008 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Nearby. Mr. Mayor? Anything to add?

    I would also like to thank Keith for his comment. As a single guy, the hookers on the end of my street typically don’t bother me, although I’ve had them jump out at my car at 6:30am while on my way to work. I was talking to one of my neighbors, though, and he hates the fact that his wife can’t walk up the street without being accosted. Moving them to a legit place would help alleviate that problem greatly. Like drugs, there is no stopping prostitution, but with the right steps taken we could go along way to minimizing it’s societal impact. I’m no lawyer, though and I’d love to hear one tell us how that could be worked out.

  57. Reclusion
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Chickens for Ann Arbor.

    Breasts and Legs for Ypsi.

  58. T Beek
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    The talk of legalization is a waste of time. It won’t happen. Ever. The closest you’d ever get is some unwritten understanding between the cops and the prostitutes that arrests won’t happen as long as they stay in a certain area. That won’t give you the routine testing and all the other things mentioned. The other option it to go at them hard and chase them out of town. I’d advocate that. We could start by mapping the problem areas and assigning neighborhood patrols.

  59. Robert
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    You won’t get me to take any interest in Ypsilanti’s prostitution problem until reports start coming in of hookers who look and act like Janeane Garofalo. Then you’ll see me get all socially conscious and shit.

  60. Paul Schreiber
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    According to Police Chief Matt Harshberger, Ypsilanti’s “Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution” ordinance was ruled unconstitutional many years ago. Calling the police when a prostitution incident occurs is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the Ypsilanti police don’t have the resources to engage in preventing prostitution.

    Proactive long-term steps against prostitution should be discussed by neighbors. Taking photos of known johns and prostitutes, having neighbors assigned to walk the neighborhood at various times, closing off one end of a street that provides easy access for criminal activity, and even becoming friends with the prostitutes and directing them to an agency that can help them are options that each neighborhood group should consider. A thorough web search of prostitution prevention measures would probably add to the list of options.

    Paul Schreiber

  61. heronblue
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    While I think that is a really inadequate reponse….

    I’m all for blocking off one end of a street in my neighborhood — right between two party stores the traffic for booze is high, and a trail of bottles is there in the mornings… as well as people who really don’t belong in the neighborhood but who want to avoid stoplights as they speed thru the neighborhood to ck out the scene at either end of the street…where ‘the action is’, or to scope out the houses. that would make things a lot more managable right there as more of the traffic would then be actual residents, not people ‘cruising’.

  62. heronblue
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    BTW the only mention I find in searches is that measures targetting “johns” would be more effective — and that places that implement “john school” have decent results.

  63. Pissedpsi
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    “Closing off one end of a street that provides easy access for criminal activity”…boy that sounds like a reasonable solution. I’ll bet many of us have suggestions for which street(s) to close off! Should we just move the white barricades laying around town, normally reserved for the cruise nights/parades/Crossroads music, and put ’em where we deem necessary?! Cause if that’s what the Mayor is suggesting then that’d be sweet.

    I live near downtown. One night a few months ago, true story, a (fairly normal looking) guy walked up to me and here’s how it went:
    GUY: I don’t mean to offend you. But I’ve heard that there are prostitutes around here. Do you know where they are?
    ME: No.
    The Guy then got into his white mini-van, parked close by, and drove away. Did I call the cops? Did I take pictures? No. Because I live there. Yeah, right. Like a) the cops would be there in a timely manner or b) I would feel safe knowing that “the Guy” knows exactly who called the cops and/or took his picture.

    I’ve witnessed and heard about the police harassing innocent people in this town on several occasions. I do not trust them because of the “shoot first, ask questions later”, Dirty Harry, tough guy attitude that the local police in this country have developed and implemented. Soon enough all males walking downtown would be suspected “Johns” and treated as such. Besides I don’t think the cops, or the city government, have the time or inclination to consider the issue of prostitution (and all that goes with it) to be a priority. This may seem like a rambling post, but this whole topic brings up SOOO many issues…

  64. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Years ago, our police forces did some major work in weakening gang activity in Ypsilanti and Willow Run (and elsewhere?). I’m foggy on the details, but I think they used a new law, or a new take on an existing law, to prosecute gang members and lock them up. Does anybody remember the details?

    So the “Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution” ordinance was declared unconstitutional–are there other possible laws that we could create that would help police put a long-term stop to much of the prostitution activity? Ypsilanti made it illegal to ride bicycles on sidewalks downtown–can’t we make a law about pulling over your car to talk to pedestrians and loiterers? I realize that would screw over people who are lost and asking for directions (or Johns might just park and walk up to prostitutes–but that would be an extra step, forcing them to leave the seeming security of their vehicles). But a hefty fine ($500?) for breaking such a law would be a great deterrent for Johns–it’s pretty clear they are looking for cheap sex.

    It sucks that we didn’t highlight this problem during the CIT campaign. “Vote Yes on CIT and No on Hoes” would have been an interesting campaign. I did find a website on inter-department efforts against gang activity that were formed based on 2001 initiatives: here. I’m thinking our prostitution problem isn’t due to organized crime, although maybe identifying connections to gang activities would draw in some of these anti-gang task forces.

    What has EMU done in relation to the problem? I’m thinking EMU leaders would be willing to do much, in light of the recent blemishes to EMU’s reputation on public safety. I don’t know what EMU could do, though (resources?). Perhaps it would take publicity of the problem to motivate EMU to address it.

    A parallel occurred to me. War on Drugs, War on Terror, War on Prostitution. . . Damn, I don’t want to be as dumb as George Bush. But I do see some “War on Terror” parallels. As our invading force has done its best to control Iraq, with superior weapons and technology, our enemies have been clever and creative in adapting ways to combat us. Prostitutes have also been clever and creative. In the other prostitution thread, OEC mentioned that prostitutes will stand by bus stops to avoid suspicion. That’s pretty clever, and it really makes it difficult to identify a prostitute in that scenario. So, if we implement some new measure, we better be clever about it–and about anticipating how they will adapt.

    Out of the war analogy, one strategy we might employ is to break down their communication–between prostitute and John (and maybe between prostitute and pimp, a connection other have suggested we focus on breaking). Maybe a group of ten or so of us could dress up like prostitutes (noting that Mark pointed out that they don’t dress like the stereotype) and line the streets where there are prostitutes and make it difficult for Johns to pick the real prostitute. We could coordinate and show up at the new spot where the prostitute relocates. This is pretty far-fetched, but I’m brainstorming here (oh yah, and I don’t know if I could pull it off (cross dress convincingly)).

    We could attack prostitute morale. I know they have problems, but we could try to guilt trip them. Maybe hand them flyers with a picture of a young girl and ask, “Do you want her to turn out like you? Please don’t sell yourself in this neighborhood. There are children here.” I don’t know if we could hand flyers to Johns, but if we could find such a way to communicate with them, I’m thinking some of them could be swayed (they might still have hearts).

    I saw an article a while ago about downtown businesses in some city playing uncool music to urge away teenagers. Could it work on prostitutes?

    Playing off of the eyeball idea, a neighborhood could coordinate with a phone list. When a prostitute shows up, everybody could just step outside their houses and stand and stare at the prostitute. That might make the prostitute leave (and not come back), although maybe that’s just relocating the problem elsewhere.

    What are the weaknesses of their operations? Let’s keep brainstorming.

  65. Posted August 16, 2008 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Why live in Ypsi? I will never get why people live there. I know I’ll get flamed for this, but I don’t see what benefits there are to living there. Crime, absurdly high property taxes, corrupt government, spotty city services… Why bother? It’s not like there aren’t other places to live in Michigan. What on earth do you get out of that dump?

  66. Oliva
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Dude, you’re kidding, right?

  67. Off with the chicken head already
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Mayor Schreiber: “Unfortunately, the Ypsilanti police don’t have the resources to engage in preventing prostitution. Proactive long-term steps against prostitution should be discussed by neighbors. Taking photos of known johns and prostitutes, having neighbors assigned to walk the neighborhood at various times, closing off one end of a street that provides easy access for criminal activity, and even becoming friends with the prostitutes and directing them to an agency that can help them are options that each neighborhood group should consider.”

    Mr. Mayor, are you really asking the residents to do the police department’s job? …or are you saying that we neighbors should consider prostitutes part of our neighborhood and welcome them in? “Becoming friends with prostitutes” and “taking pictures” of them could lead to harsh retaliation by those nice, protective fellows called pimps (or should we also consider those guys to be our neighbors too?).

    Calling the police EACH TIME you see prostitution activities is very good advice, and the police have tracked such calls and responded with targeted enforcement in the past. However, Mr. Mayor, it appears to me that you’re saying that the city has sunk so far that it can no longer enforce its laws!

    Which other laws are we no longer choosing to enforce? Robbery? Assault? Rape? Plant thievery?

    Even suggesting that people patrol their own neighborhoods is problematic, if our police department cannot support them. In some neighborhoods, citizen volunteer patrols with radios for calls to police dispatch worked well in the past for short periods to discourage criminal activity. However, the keys to success were that sufficient officers were available to respond quickly to radioed reports, and that the patrols were a short-term response. Asking a neighborhood association to sustain the level of organization and volunteer interest over months or years is unreasonable.

    Mr. Mayor, if this is all you’ve got left for us in the idea department, perhaps it’s time to move on. We desperately need creative leadership at City Hall, and it no longer appears that you’re it.

  68. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Whoah, preemptive negativity and misdirected animosity. Why so hard on the Mayor? Obviously, prostitution has been a problem in a lot of communities–without being easily eradicated. It seems off to call him out for not having enough police officers when the CIT proposal was voted down and new council members were voted in on platforms of wise spending and cutting waste in the budget. We don’t have resources. We could reallocate, but at the expense of what?

    I’m glad to have a Mayor who reads local blogs and responds. If he reckons from this thread that it’s a problem that warrants attention (problematic as anecdotal evidence is hard to quantify), I hope he will investigate potential solutions. Let’s invite him into the problem solving process, in a positive way.

  69. schutzman
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 11:12 am | Permalink


    perhaps we could show them photographs of their own grandmothers, who were brought up here from the south to work for the auto companies, and ask them why they can’t just get a good, decent job like they did.

    Then, as “dude” pointed out, we can tell them how stupid they are for not having saved up the money to be able to afford relocating to someplace else.

    Finally, I propose the DDA allocate funds for the purchase of bootstraps with which these women can lift themselves up from poverty, and follow the american dream.


    there’s a very thin line between paternalism and fascism.

  70. heronblue
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Well I have to say Keith’s comment really hit me, my heart goes out to you. And I thank you for not giving up on it all. How did the ‘taken over’ house get reclaimed?

    Yeah, we shouldn’t have to face that kind of stuff alone, and without at least the support of neighbors/community, if not an effective/timely police force. I guess that’s what I like about Ypsi, is that there’s guys like Mark who create a community discussion, and people in the community who care enough to frequent such a blog to problem solve it, and help.

    You reminded me of back when I lived in Detroit while doing my graduate work at WSU. Boy did I feel powerless. You’d call the police because it sounded like s/o was getting murdered downstairs and end up impressed if they actually even DID show up. Yes, I have to say once in a while i get these moments when in certain areas of Ypsi where I wonder if i’m back in Detroit –Your comment Keith sounded like the same experience that is mentioned was the catalyst for johntv:

    “Recently an individual in Oklahoma City has been getting a lot of attention for his efforts to use shame to prevent crime. His name is Brian Bates, and he styles himself as a video vigilante in his efforts to prevent prostitution. Brian started some years ago when he got frustrated with the high levels of prostitution in his neighborhood. At one point, he came out of his house to find a prostitute and her client conducting business while parked in his driveway. He eventually testified in court for several cases, but no convictions resulted. Off-handedly, a prosecutor joked that maybe next time he could bring in a video clip, and he thought that was a good idea”

    It goes on to says how he goes and interviews the john after interrupting him, or at least catching up with him… and he videos it, announces what he’s doing, and then posts it on the web … cute article with a video clip of
    him doing this with an army recruiter.

    Since it appears this requires good interviewing skills, and Mark M has talked about what great interviewing experience he has I nominate him as the best qualified for this task (after all he identified the problem and wants a solution ; ) has blogging skill, and could easily create Ypsi’s johntv site complete with great writing and reporting. This will likely be the blog that actually catapults him into the national spotlite and gets him onto Jon Stewart’s show and the Late Show.

    Perhaps we could post signs in all of the typically used areas (or get portable ones we can relocate as needed) that say: “Warning this is a filming area for John tv” with an eye depicted underneath this statement. And then we could actually do it often enough that they take it as a serious possibility, along with publicizing it so the general ‘potential John’ public knows ypsi is doing this as an ongoing campaign. (kinda like a supprise audit – that can occur at any time)

    We could print brochures that nicely explain this effort and what its about, and what we want to come from it, and have a neighborhood patrol effort where we pass these out in a friendly manner to the women involved, letting them know that this “audit” may occur at any time, and what we suggest to them as the best way of avoiding this, along with info on agencies where they can get help to get out of the business.

    Steve Pierce is going to kill me for saying this, but he and Joe are really good at doing helpful neighborhood patrols, and the prostitution really grinds Joe (he talks about this frequently at neighborhood ass’n meetings) so maybe they’d be willing to organize a patrol effort, as if they aren’ doing enuff…. (aren’t i really great at volunteering everyone else? sorry, i really have no talents in this regard, so i have to defer to these more highly skilled individuals…) Plus they both have a great rapport with the police…

    i think it would be uplifting to actually be able to tackle the problem in some way that had some positive energy/humor and impact. That’s why mark is clearly the main man for the job. I’d be willing to be a “support” person and log time on a patrol with another person, and to work on flyers, pass out flyers, call the press, write letters publicizing to the paper etc. under supervision ; )

  71. heronblue
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Here’s Bate’s blog – so you can see what a strange vigilante type he is.

  72. Posted August 16, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    No, I was not kidding. I don’t get it. Ypsi is no bargain to merit putting up with the amount of stupid crap that I’m reading in this blog. There are plenty of cheaper places to live in Michigan that do not have the myriad of problems that Ypsi has. I don’t understand why anyone would consciously choose to live there. The biggest justification I hear is that “it’s not Ann Arbor”. Well, more than 99.99% of the world is not Ann Arbor. Why choose a dump like Ypsi?

    Your property taxes are completely ridiculous. You have crime out the wazoo. There is little to no local economy. I can understand if you’re forced to live there due to poverty, whatever, but I strongly suspect that people on this list have a choice of where they live.

    I realize I’m going to get flamed, but I really just do not get it.

  73. Paul Schreiber
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink


    This morning I met my new neighbor and her two little girls here in Ypsi city. They moved from Ypsi Township near the big cow on Ecorse road. She said that she likes living in a neighborhood with young kids and sidewalks.

    Close-knit neighborhoods, annual festivals and events, places like the Corner Brewery, historic buildings, museums, and the cultural benefits of the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area attract families to the city of Ypsilanti.

    Paul Schreiber

  74. rodneyn
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I would agree with the Mayor about the reasons to live in the City of Ypsilanti (except replace the Corner Brewery with Bombadill’s, the Great Wall, and the downtown library). The high property taxes are a nuisance and a deterrent, but that is something which can only be changed through the state and local political processes and long-term economic development efforts. The unique character of place with which the city is endowed is irreplaceable and difficult to duplicate in Ypsi Twp.

    The Ypsi police department has done a fantastic job of maximizing its resources and providing high quality services with a declining budget. Because of their efforts, past budget and personnel cuts did not seem to have an impact on the level of public services provided.

    That no longer seems to be the case with the latest changes. The number of officers and cars on patrol during certain periods has decreased significantly, and it shows in the ability of officers to respond to “broken window” and nuisance type calls in a timely way.

  75. Posted August 16, 2008 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Good god. I have no understanding of why individuals would live in Ypsi, let alone people with kids. The schools are miserable! And for what you dump out in property taxes, you get very little back in terms of education. The Corner Brewery may be fine for 20 and 30 something folks looking to hang out, but why put your kids through living there just so you can throw back a couple of beers? Museums? They are accessible no matter where you live. I still don’t get it. Is it a cult?

  76. heronblue
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    So Dude, I’m curious, if you think Ypsi is so ‘for the birds’ — why are you spending so much time reading and commenting on an Ypsi blog — I mean what with the world at your finger tips and all. really dude, tell us, huh?

    Just felt someone needed to come and save us? ; )

  77. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    No flaming yet.

    A few points, though. While property taxes are at a higher rate, property is cheaper in Ypsi than in Ann Arbor, so we’re most likely paying less in Ypsi for our house than if we lived in the same house/property in Ann Arbor.

    I’m happy where I live: College Heights neighborhood. I’ve heard from many people that West Middle School and the Estabrook Elementary School are pretty good. Ypsi High was not so good for my wife twenty years ago, and it wasn’t so good ten years ago when I did my student teaching there. But I have seen some encouraging things going on there. Still, it’s a long-term concern for me (my son is one year old).

    So, I don’t get what’s so bad about Ypsi. Maybe you could go into some detail, especially in comparison with where you live–or with surrounding communities.

  78. Posted August 16, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m just trying to understand, since I don’t. I live in a small town where property values and taxes are cheap. You can buy a house here for about $65K and pay less than $1K a year in taxes. There’s a commute if you work in, say, Ann Arbor, but it’s not so bad. Certainly not any worse than living in any large city. My commute out east ran up to 3 hours so this seems like nothing.

    We had one murder last year. Most crime revolves around yahoos drunk driving and generally being a redneck nuisance. I never lock my door. I never lock my car door. I’m not even sure the house door lock works anymore. I bought my car from the cheif of police so, in the rare event that there is a problem, I can call him up and get response immediately.

    There may be prostitution here but I wouldn’t know where to find it. I know that when you get out in the country there’s meth, but it’s never crossed in to my zone.

    While the schools are certainly sub-par, the low tax rate allows you to choose private options if you can, plus, being a small town, you tend to have much better access to school admins and schoolboard types. You can get out of the schools what you put in.

    While we don’t have amazing cultural events and chic breweries, they are always accessible out of town. I certainly don’t spend every day at a museums and I’m too old to hang out at bars, so when the rare opportunity comes that I have time or would like to do something, I don’t mind driving a bit to get to something fun.

    Basically, much of southeast Michigan is like this so I don’t understand what the appeal of Ypsi is when there are so many other options within a 30 mile radius.

    Dirtgrain has brought up the “it’s cheaper than Ann Arbor” argument. I just don’t see how it’s cheap enough. Not judging, just want to understand.

  79. elviscostello
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    dude, since this is my areas of expertise, I’d like you to do some homework. How long will it take your community to round up it’s volunteer fire department and put out the house fire, that by now, will probably be in the basement? How long will it take you to get an Ambulance there when your 65 year old neighbor has a heart attack?
    Just curious…Those are some of the things higher taxes pay for…In the winter, you can tell where the city border is by the wet pavement, not snow-covered and dangerous…

  80. Posted August 16, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Atually, we have a city fire department and a large hospital with an extensive ambulance network throughout the county. It takes me 3 minutes to drive to the hospital and I can walk to the fire department.

    As for volunteer fire departments, they are at the fire dept 24 hours a day. I don’t know where your homework comes from. The volunteer firemen do a great job.

    The county does a great job keeping the roads clear, MUCH better than extremely expensive Ann Arbor or Ypsi. I know this because I’ve lived in all of these places.

    We have all the services at a tenth the price.

  81. heronblue
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    okay well dude, you still didn’t answer my q about what attracts you to this blog, when you could go to any blog in the country? I think there’s something you must like here.

    An old friendly acquaintance of mine moved over from A2 and said: “Good Lord! My neighbors and people around town TALK TO ME!” She felt that Ypsi was incredibly friendly and kid friendly whereas she felt Ann Arbor was a bit cold.

    I was drawn to Ypsi because it was affordable, a short commute (or long bike ride) to jobs, and had a small town feel, along with a liveliness mingled in with the comfort of old things/cars/houses, old ways. I was just looking around one day (living in A2 at the time)had been enjoying exploring Depot Town’s antiques, and old cars… and I ran into someone i knew who was an acquaintance, and somewhat strung out looking. This was s/o who was mentally not well all of the time… and struggling. Anyhow, as i knew them, and could see they were having a hard time, I bought him a coke or tea or something, and invited him to accompany me as I walked around town as it seemed that company could do him good right then.

    When we wandered over to the freighthouse, having never been there before and wondering what it was all about…Gary Urich opened the door with a big smile and bright hello, and said “welcome to the Freighthouse!”; he was chatty and warm, and ended up giving us this enthusiastic little tour of the place that was, well again — warm & welcoming and actually fairly lengthy, conversational and engaging rather than just talking at us. He seemed genuinely interested in us and if we were enjoying Depot Town. It was clear that he was excited about the Freighthouse and his job, and the place and people. He had a momentary lull in his work, and he didn’t mind sharing it with some newcomers to share his zest for this community spot.

    I am sure that he noticed that my friend was a tad “off” and struggling as it was pretty obvious. No matter. When we left he gave us a warm ‘come back again’.

    Next we ventured around and ended up at the co-op. There we ran into someone I knew vaguely, but who was a board member and who immediately took my hand, saying a warm hello and was also friendly and welcoming; talking to us for a long time, carefully involving my “friend” again both kindly, and warmly despite being strangers, and it clear that my friend was a bit “strung out” looking. When we went on our way … my “friend” noted that it was interesting we had kept “running into angels” as we walked around town. And, I had a good chuckle. Well, I certainly am more “oriented” than to think those were Angels!! LOL. But I think that about then, I was pretty charmed by Ypsi.

    After moving here, Gary & Marie who really didn’t know me from Adam, continued to just do nice things like drop off flower pots with flowers for my garden that were the “hardy” variety that even I might be able to get to grow what with my green thumb and all… I loved walking to Millers at the time, and running into my neighbors, hanging out at the co-op and being introduced to folks I didn’t know, by s/o I did, like Frances or Dave Boutette who Ypsi were fixtures at the time and generally people who were interesting characters… there was always something interesting to explore within walking distance.

    Grace Murdock was always wandering over with something to offer… fresh picked raspberries from her bushes, cut peonies, wise advice… news, wondering if anything was growing in my garden after all… cat tales…

    I liked buying my bread from a baker I knew (and eventually helped out a bit) a few blocks away…. walking to the farmer’s market on Sat ams.(at the time in the freighthouse) and again, catching up with neighbors while i did some shopping…

    I loved the poetry readings, the old wood stove going, old folks and kids sitting around drinking cider and eating donuts… and a little music as a regular thing.

    I also loved walking thru the park and going to a play at the Riverside theater, plays that have gotten better and better… and during intermission cking out the art in the gallery, and again… possibly making the acquaintance of a new neighbor or catching up on things with an old neighbor… Ypsi has always had an intimate feel to it… and reminds me of when I lived in Baltimore where you could go into a lunch counter and see a bag lady on a stool next to someone ‘old money’ and conversing.

    Now I go to Bombadill’s where Pete is friendly to everyone who walks in the door.. and willing to help with any positive idea. Or go to the Wolverine where the waitresses know the names of most of their customers, and treat the retarded folks who come in fairly regularly, like VIPS — also on a first name basis. Everyone is treated the same way there – warmly, personally, big tip or little tip, no matter.

    The bike shop isn’t half bad either. It just seems to me that people go a little further to be friendly, helpful take a little time, rather than ‘doing business’

    But, hey, you should be out cking out the heritage festival… with all of those ordinary families running around having fun. pretty good stuff. Always loved seeing all the tie dye shirts, LOL.

    why does someone fall in love with this person (good and bad); as opposed to that person? where you take the problems along with the good stuff cause its part of the package? why does a place get under your skin and become yours; or a place you feel you belong? when another is a town you visit? go figure.

  82. Posted August 16, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    AMEN! heron blue!!!

    dude, you want to know about Ypsi? Well, come hang out with us someday. You’re more than welcome – seriously. What would you like to do? Go for a bike ride? See some historic homes and buildings? Get the best breakfast/lunch/dinner you’ve ever had? Drink a beer or two? Go on a tour of EMU? Play basketball at the park? Go fishing? Play disc golf? Go to a festival? Hang out in the backyard? Visit with our neighbors?

    You want more sugggeestions just read heron’s post!

    C’mon, dude, we’d love to have you – we don’t exclude anybody.

    One more thing, dude, if you read this blog that our good neighbor MM runs, you’ll see that there’s plently more to be excited about. I personally find it another positive that this blog brings up important community issues that we can all weigh in on.

    C’mon, dude, and see for yourself!

  83. Brackache
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    A city is more a collection of people than a bunch of buildings and laws. Ypsi people are just better people, frankly. At least the ones I hang out with.

    I share your small-town experience, dude, and I do appreciate those small town characteristics (low taxes, etc.), plus I’ll add more freedom and plenty of places to shoot guns without anyone getting hysterical.

    …but I like my friends here, I like my job here, I like being able to walk to town, and I like the Ypsi culture. Provided I can get out of dodge and go camping and/or shooting every so often. If only Ypsi had a rifle and/or pistol range, it’d be perfect. And, of course, way lower property taxes would seal the deal.

  84. Mr. Hyde
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about prostitution so much, but as far as disrespectful trashy outsiders littering in Depot Town during the Heritage Fest, I’ve found a solution:

    Going out to witness the fireworks, I witnessed a woman in a parked car scornfully dropping candy wrappers out of her window onto the street. There was a huge pile of them. I tried to figure out what the right thing to do was, like call the cops, or ignore her, or what.

    After the third wrapper I saw hit the ground, I found myself walking over to her car, scooping up all the wrappers, and standing beside her open driver’s side window. She looked surly and defiant, with a lot of me-against-the-world tude… but not directly at me, of course.

    I said, “please don’t litter on our street,” and dumped all the wrappers onto her lap.

    She grumpily swiped a few back out as I walked away, but when I went out later to see if she were still there, there were only three wrappers left on the ground.

    A couple dozen down to three is a victory for direct confrontation, I’d say. Perhaps it works for ho’s and pimps too.

  85. Posted August 17, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    About our Ypsi schools…

    Ypsi High struggles, but my daughter and her husband graduated form there in 1999? and 2000. Both went to U of M, and now are professionally employed. Son in law is at NASA and daughter is an intensive care pediatric nurse at a large hospital in Houston. Their friends from YHS also went on to college, graduated and are now professionally employed in different careers. My son is there now.

    Seems like some good things must be going on at that school.

  86. Posted August 17, 2008 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Or your kids are just super smart and motivated and would do well at any school. That’s comes from good parenting :)

  87. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 17, 2008 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    More on Ypsilanti High School. When I went there to student teach in the late ’90s, I worried about it being a tough school. It wasn’t. While I had a few of the tough kids, there weren’t that many of them. Most of the kids were good kids.

    I felt the biggest problem at the time was that the teaching staff wasn’t up to snuff (yah, I was a bit opinionated as a student teacher, but I did see some obvious crap teachers). I learned that over twenty or so years, due to factories and businesses closing, Ypsilanti’s student population had been nearly cut in half. This forced reorganization several times at the school, and they had a number of teachers teaching outside of their chosen content areas. That may have been a factor in the quality of teaching. But the main factor, as far as I could tell, was a problem with teacher and administrator morale, which trickled down to the students (down onto?). The administration had issues, including a corrupt superintendent (I only know of this on word of mouth–but supposedly there were crooked deals with cronies and the RCTC building). And the Great Room was ridiculous–if one teacher showed a movie for a class in the great room, the surrounding classrooms had to hear it. Teachers were talking trash about other teachers on a regular basis (this, of course, goes on in every school, but it was thick at Ypsi High).

    My experience was tainted by the teacher with whom I worked–who was completely burnt out–and was pretty much a nasty human being to her most of her students. On the bright side, I’ve met a number of Ypsi graduates since that time who have impressed me.

    Dude, what quantifiable data do you have to show that Ypsi schools are worse than the schools in your community?

  88. maryd
    Posted August 17, 2008 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Heron Blue you describe a shared Ypsi experience and articulate why we that have been defined as haters are really great lovers of our town.
    Re: prostitution, I was told the johns are the white dudes from the burbs that would never live in Ypsi. This victimless crime is painful to explain to my daughters when they are solicited while running or walking in town.

  89. Posted August 17, 2008 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think they are worse than the schools in my area. The schools here are just as bad or as good as Ypsi. I said that your property taxes are too much to justify living there when the same mediocre Michigan public education can be had elsewhere for cheaper.

    I do, however, believe that a smaller schools gives parents a little more leverage if they choose to get involved.

  90. Curt Waugh
    Posted August 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Dude, you’ve got it all wrong. You keep wanting everybody on this blog to talk you out of your love for wherever it is you live right now (that, hmmmmmmmmm….., you don’t mention Mr. Anonymous). But this has nothing to do with this place over that place. We live here. Period. This is our home. We’re trying to make the best of it that we can. Why are you so down on that effort? You act like wherever you are is so much better. I sincerely doubt that. It’s just YOUR home. What don’t you get? You sound really snobbish in your comments. Which, now that I think about it, might be one of the reasons you don’t like Ypsi. We are many things, but we are NOT snobs.

    And Mark, please start another thread about the Heritage Fest/Fireworks. My family went to the fireworks and I have rarely been so overwhelmingly dismayed by a group of people in my life. A bunch of drunk assholes across the board. One guy was so drunk, he stepped on my wife’s foot as we were walking across the foot bridge to the park. When I pointed him out to the cops (this dude literally falling down drunk), they were more concerned about some damn bikes on the path than this walking piece of shite. The jerks behind us were too self-absorbed to remove their very tired SCREAMING child. He screamed the entire time. Nice folks. And everybody, I’m not kidding, had a rambling drunken commentary the entire time. And don’t even get me started about the 50-ish couples in front of us on the way back to their double-wides discussing who had the coke. We will not be going back.

    But the parade was awesome! (Not kidding.)

  91. nammeroo
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Keith Agdanowsk [Visitor] · http://ypsicat-KA
    “Prostitution has been a major problem for the River/Babbitt area for years…. This has been the response over the years: (Mayor) Cheryl Farmer stating that we need to keep the prostitution issue from coming up in city council because it would get covered by the press and more Johns would find out about Ypsi and pick up prostitutes.”

    Keith, thank you for this comment. I was beginning to forget why I was so grateful to Mayor Farmer for declining to run again in 2006. I fervently hope that I Never Forget Again!

  92. Posted August 30, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I say just give them press passes and let ’em hang around at city hall.

  93. ICU
    Posted October 12, 2008 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    The police need to get to the root of the probelm. The root being the drugs. Most of these women are drug addicts. Get rid of the drug dealers & you’ll get rid of the hookers. Also I believe there should be more advertisements for programs that can help these women. I have never seen any! I have been wondering about church or community outreach programs, but again have never seen any advertisements for this sort of thing. Perhaps if they don’t want to advertise then they could just inform the police and the police could give the girls an option, go to the revovery/outreach program or go to jail. But then again they don’t always put them in jail for more than a day cuz it costs too much and there is overcrowding, etc…
    they e girls instead; but they cant afford them so they either never get paid or the girls go out and do the only thing they know…prostitution…to pay the fine. They then hide from the pimps/drug dealers so they csan keep the money they make and many then end up geting beaten for holding out on them, it’s a nasty cycle. It is the drug dealers we need to get rid of! They are the root of the prostituton problem and the more serious problem overall. I’m also tired of hearing that we don’t have enough police: we have Ypsi police, Washtenaw County police, Michgan state police, EMU Police…there are enough, they just need to move this problem higher up on their priority lists.

  94. ICU
    Posted October 12, 2008 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    From what I can tell the hot areas for prostituiton in Ypsi. are: All along Mich Ave. from the Mobil gas station and car wash on the far east side all the way to Abe’s coney island. Along the way there are several other areas just off of Mich Ave. I’l start from the East going Westward: The car wash behind and to the West of the Mobil gas station, The motel on Mich ave just West of the car wash, the trailer park across the street on the South side of Mich Ave and the cheap apartment complex next to it, the corner on the North side of Mich Ave between the woods and the party store just East of the street that runs by Willow Run High School (for cryin’ out loud!), The little side streets between Krogers & CVS, behind Speedway gas station on Cross St. between the corner & the small street with the little apartment building & Jays(?) coney island, sometimes all down cross street from the corner behind speedway through Depot Town all the way to Hamilton St, in front of the trailer park between A&W party store and the Your Motel, the Your Motel itself, the streets next to it between the motel and Burger King, the street next to that (seems to be the busiest spot nowadays) between Arthurs Bar and Miles, Miles & Mich Ave & the streets behind these that run behind Burger King & connect to Miles, The Harmony House motel, Prospect from Mich Ave to Martin(?) & Martin(?) itself which runs behind the Citgo gas station & the Harmony House motel & connects to Miles (there’s a church on this street! OMG!!), the South side of prospect from Mich Ave to the next light, The street between Clucks drive in restaurant & the business next to it, the next street over which has a grade school on it!!!, Behind the BP gas station & Dairy Queen and “the loop” behind it, River street from Mich Ave to Depot Town on Cross st., The bus stop bench in front of KFC, every side street off of Mich Ave. from Huron to Hamilton, the Bus station downtown, I’ve even seen them hanging out inside Abe’s coney Island. Now there is another area where I have seen them: On Ford Rd from Ecorse to Forest, especially in the neighborhood behind Hungry Howies. I have also seen a few on Ecorse between Ford & Mich Ave. I even saw one on Forest near Ford once (she was picked up by a customer literaly 2 blocks from the Wasthenaw county police station!).
    I’m sure there are other areas but that is where I recall seeing them over the last couple of years. So as you can see it is not just a small problem, it’s widespread. I was at a gas station in town once and a guy asked me for a ride and then asked if I was looking for “some girls”, I told him I wasn’t into picking up hookers, he told me “oh no, my girls are clean cut, good looking college girls just tring to make their way through school”, he then offered me a business card with an internet adress on it! I couldn’t believe it!! So it is even more widespread than many of us thought. And for the curious, yes I gave him a ride to the bus station and no I didn’t take the card. I tried to help someone who seemed in distress and also harmless and he turned out to be an internet pimp! So I pose this question: Do we want to get rod of the prostitution problem or do we just want to get rid of the part of it we can see? Something to think about…

  95. Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    This is not going to be short. I’m going to tell you about a woman I know and her life on the street’s. She just had her 45th b-day in January and she cried because she never thought she would still be alive to see it. This woman grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. She grew up with parents that were both addicts. Her father being a mean raging alcoholic and her mom pills and weed. Nothing was hidden in her home and the children saw everything. When her dad was off on one of his many drunken excursions her mother would take advantage of it and bring guy’s in the house to have sex. One night when she was 4 yrs old and had fell asleep on the living room couch her mom brought a guy home with her and she woke up to the man taking her clothes off and fondling her while her mother watched. This man had paid her mother to do this. This family that this girl grew up in is an old and well known family in that area. The horrors and abuse in this family is also well documented with Social Services, but back in them day’s people stayed out of their neighbor’s family affairs even if abuse like her and her brother’s and sisters were put through. Her father beat the kid’s on a daily basis like they were grown men and beat her mom in front of them. She still can clearly remember the day that her dad put the shotgun to her mom’s head and made them watch while he pulled the trigger. She grew up with 8 brother’s and 3 sister’s with the youngest girl Cathy dying at the age of 4 and a half months because her mom came home high and put the baby in the bed with her and rolled over on top of her in her sleep and suffocated her. Her mom spent 6 years in newberry mental hospital after that and was finally declared fit to be released in 1975. Oh and there was’nt any bullets in the shotgun so her dad did’nt kill her mom, but that was only because he was drunk and forgot to load it. Every kind of abuse that is known these kid’s were subjected to mental, emotional, pyhsical, and for her and her oldest sister Barbara sexual. Her dad started raping Barb when she was twelve and when D>S>S> removed her from the home he started on her. Do you know what happen’s to the mind of a 6 yr old girl when her daddy does that to her? What happen’s to her soul? She got exceptionally good at hiding inside of her mind. When she did that he could’nt hurt her anymore because she was no longer there. It becomes a blackness that you can’t see through or feel anything through. Her daddy was’nt hurting her anymore he was hurting the blackness, and the blackness protected her from her daddy. Finally soxcial services stepped in, but that was only because at 6 yrs old she swallowed a bunch of aspirin trying to kill herself and the hospital reported it. All the kid’s were put into foster care. They were all split up into different families. The older kid’s got lucky and got good homes, but her and 2 other younger brother’s got put into homes that were also abusive. After 3 yrs of going through 15 different homes she finally got put with a family at Kincheloe Air Force Base she was 9 yrs old. Her younger brother Tim also came to stay with them. This family treated her like she was theirs and would alway’s be theirs. She got periotic visits from her mom, but they never seemed to be anything more than 2 strangers meeting and her mom never stayed more than 30 minutes. One day when she came home from school they asked her how she felt about going and living with her mother she was 12 yrs old by then. She had buried all the pain she had been put through when she was younger and so deep inside of her that it looked and felt like it happened to someone else. She wanted to be with her mother more than anything in the world. To this day she regrets making the decision to move back home with her mother, because she often wonders what kind of person she would have grown up to be if she had stayed with her foster family. They loved her and were going to adopt her and her brother if they would have stayed with them, but she did’nt and when she moved back with her mom all the nightmares that had took years to go away came back. She started remembering what happened to her in bit’s and pieces. Some parts she still can’t remember because of the blackness. Her shrink say’s that’s how her mind kept her from going crazy because the only time the blackness came was when her father came to her and made her do things. She never remembers during or after it happened. She only remembers the beginning then everything goes black. Now she’s out of foster care and her mom fooled everyone into thinking she was o.k. They all believed that she was drug free, but she was’nt. She would leave at night and come home after the bars closed with a different guy every night if she came home at all, and she would be having sex with these guy’s when the kid’s were coming down the stairs to go to school right in the living room where they had to walk through to get to the kitchen. She did’nt care if she saw them or not just like she did’nt care about them. she made it a point everyday to tell them how much she hated them because they were just like their father and the only reason she got them out of foster care was so that she could get more welfare money. She also told them that she fought to get them back because even though she did’nt want them she sure as hell was’nt going to let someone else have us. Her mother at that time being addicted to Dilaudid ( morphine ) was the first person to give them drugs. That was the start of 33 yrs of hell for her. It got to the point where social services would’nt give her money for all of them so she put most of the kids back into foster care because she could’nt take care of them and her drug habit too. Billy was already 15 and he left on his own, but she was 14 when her mother put her out on the streets with nowhere to go. She knew about hitch hiking and left the Sault and ended up in Ann arbor with some people that were coming for the Hash Bash. When your 14 and homeless with no money, clothes ( except the ones on your back ) and hungry with nowhere to go and no one to help you end up having to do things that you end up hating yourself forever for. For the longest she ate out of the garbage cans behind mickey D’s in down town Ann Arbor, but only would do it when it got to the point of her either eating or starving to death. That all changed in the winter of 78. She had been sleeping in laundromats or sometimes would crawl underneath a stairwell in an apt. building to sleep and not freeze to death. One night when she was wondering how she was going to find food and stay somewhere warm an old man started following her. He eventually started talking and asked where she lived and when she told him nowhere he offered to let her stay with him and if she would have sex with him for 100 dollars. For someone who had never even held a 10 dollar bill in her life hell 100 dollars just to let a man go to bed with her made her feel rich. That was the start of something that would eventually become her whole existance. At first it was great the sex she did’nt care about and she has never in her life had a ” pimp “. She met some street people who turned her on to heroin. She hated what she did with these guy’s, but the dope made it all go away. Finally found something that was tailored to her specific needs. She could do the heroin and not feel anything and that made it possible for her to be with all these different men. It was all good until the first time she had a knife put to her throat and was raped. For 33 yrs she has been a prostitute and a damn good one. Never once will you hear of her ripping any customer off and she alway’s used condoms… hell they are free if you know where to go get them. Do any of you know what it’s like or do you know of anyone that has ever been raped? Do you know that over the course of 33 yrs of hooking she has been raped over 100 times. She alway’s wanted to stop working, but did’nt know how because it was all she had ever done since the age of 14. Finally she gave up trying because everytime she tried to change her life someone would come along that had seen her on the street and would say something to the manager of where she had finally gotten a legal job and would say something and get her fired. This happened 4 times to her finally she just said to hell with it why even try anymore. Even though she was trying to better herself and get off the streets people would’nt let her forget what she did. I’m the girl in this story and something happened to me 1 year ago that changed my life forever my mother died. At the time of her death i was already in the methadone program on Ford Blvd. That place saved my life. My mother had never not once in her life ever told us kid’s that she loved us not until she was dying. I loved my mother more than my own life and for once I wanted her to be proud of me before she died and i wanted her to see the change in me. It will be 2 years this fall since I have walked Michigan Ave, and used drugs. I went back to school 1 year ago ( college) and one thing i am not is stupid. You can not be stupid and survive 33 yrs on the streets without getting killed or killing yourself. My mother got to see my grades from my mid term thesis on family addiction ( I got an A ) and for the first time in my life she told me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me and made me promise to stay in school and make something of my life before it was too late. That was last August 21, 2008. My mother died right before Thanksgiving and even though i wanted to die with her I did’nt. I’m still in college and drug free and still getting straight A’s. I wasted too many years of my life on the streets and have put literally millions of dollars of heroin into my body over those 33 years. I will tell you something though. Everytime i went to jail if I would have had somewhere to go and had a job waiting for me when i got out they would have had one less hooker to worry about. These girls have nothing to go to when they get out of jail except back to the streets. What do you think they’re going to do when the jail either kicks you out at midnight or 6:oo am? They are going to do the only thing they can do and that is go to work on the street and from there the cycle starts all over again. And just to let you know i love children and i would never let a child see me getting in or out of a car and i aplogize for the one’s that do. Children should not be subjected to that and I don’t have children, but if i did i would be pissed off too if a girl did that in front of them. I have never had a pimp and alway’s made sure that i looked good out there when i was working. The better dressed you are and clean you are the more money you make and i made 3 – 5 thousand a week, but i have nothing to show for all that money but a lot of scars from using. So the next time you see a girl walking the street don’t think for a minute that she’s out there because she likes what she’s doing. Don’t holler out your window to get a job or call her names. Let her know that there are actually people that care and want to see her change her life and if you own a business… please offer her a job you might be surprised at how quickly she will say yes. Most of all don’t make her feel any worse than she already does about herself. Don’t kick her when she’s down she’s already doing it to herself instead try offering a hand up. God will most surely bless you for it. Peace and Blessings to you all, Kimberly Lyons – former addict and prostitute in Ypsilanti known as Hubba Bubba ( I alway’s chewed the gum ).

  96. Kena
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    It’s funny Kim but I just knew it was you even before I got to the end of the post. I sincerely wish you all the best. I’ve been clean and out of the life for over twenty years now so please let me assure you it’s worth it. Even when it sucks it just doesn’t suck as much as alla that.
    I always wondered what happened to you, and Blondell. I already know about Carol. As well as so many of the other girls. And guys.
    But if you don’t mind one piece of unsolicited advice, only because I’ve been watching a trend with some of the other folks I still am in touch with…. It seems like at some point most people are faced with a crux in which they really have to get completely clear whether they are in it or out. Some communities are tolerant of a sort of, one foot still in, in some ways, but most are just not tolerant at all. I’ve seen a lot of people completely lose their hard won new support systems and fall back because they tried to run a little game.
    Again good luck, it really does get easier, in most ways anyway.
    Kena Rae

  97. Brackinald Achery
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    God bless you two, thanks so much for sharing that.

  98. Mrs T
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Might I suggest that this comment be moved up to the front page so that more people can read it?

  99. Ypsiosaurus Wrecks
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I think Ypsi needs to legalize prostition – it’s not going away. And it gives Ypsi that “gritty” edge eveyone seems to like so much. Legalize, regulate and tax it – just like they should do with marijuana. It would be FAR more “progressive” than having a chicken ordinace passed….

    Most posts here sound like disgruntled middle class white people who want to shield their kids from the reality of Ypsilanti. If you have such a problem with what is outside your door – then move to the township.

  100. Willia Liebowitz
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I would love to be a prostitute in Ypsilanti, but I have cottage cheese hips and thighs and I am ashamed to show my body. But I’m tired of watching everyone else have all of the fun. So I’ve begun to exercise. Now is the time to get rid of cellulite on thighs and get to work on Michigan Avenue.

  101. Posted November 14, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Yes, they do look like they’re having a lot of “fun” don’t they, what with their perfect bodies, and their romantic Richard Gere-like clients?

  102. Junior
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I also care about the quality of prostitution in Ypsilanti. I would have thought that it would get better as economy has gotten worse, but it’s been the opposite. I’ve written to my legislators, but they’ve refused to act.

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