Here’s some news that will rub Ridgeites the right way.
Nineteen people were arrested for being involved in prostitution and illegal “massage parlors” across Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, announced Councilmember Vincent Gentile, District Attorney Charles Hynes and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Thursday, July 11.
The year-long investigation was spearheaded after residents complained about the questionable establishments to the DA’s office through the offices of Gentile and Community Board 10. The joint investigation was conducted by the Kings County District Attorney Special Investigation Unit and the Brooklyn South Vice Unit of the NYPD.
A total of 11 “massage parlors” were busted. Locations include: 351 99th Street, 8313 Third Avenue, 8515 Fourth Avenue, 7811 Fifth Avenue, 479 73rd Street, 7109 Eighth Avenue, 883 72nd Street, 7102 and 7103 Fort Hamilton Parkway and 6701 and 6920 13th Avenue.
“Today we are sending a very strong and simple message: businesses like these have no place in our family oriented community,” Gentile said. “And while we encourage small businesses to open and flourish here, we will not stand for any business that engages in illegal activities or breaks the law. Plain and simple, establishments like these are an embarrassment to and a scourge on our neighborhoods. Make no mistake, today was a big victory for our community.”
Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10 was also present at the announcement.
“We are just delighted at the responsiveness of the D.A.’s office to the community’s complaints relating to these massage parlors. We are very happy,” said Beckmann. “His yearlong investigation demonstrated that many of those complaints were validated and each complaint was taken seriously. I appreciate the collaborative effort of all agencies involved and look forward to working on this issue as a community together.”
State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis concurred.
“I have been working with the NYPD and City Hall for months to clean up our neighborhood, but the fight continues until all of these bogus and illegally run parlors are closed down for good,” Golden said. “I continue to work to ensure that our community is a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
“Today’s arrests illustrate just how rampant prostitution has become in our community,” Malliotakis added. “Local elected officials will continue to work with our community boards, residents and law enforcement to identify these seedy establishments and rid their criminal element from Bay Ridge and all of Brooklyn.”
In order to fully address the problem, the city needs to focus on more than just the sex workers, though, said Sienna Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center.
“Arresting sex workers does nothing to increase their opportunities and safety,” Baskin said. “The city should focus on outreach and services to sex workers, instead of arresting them.”