Village Voice / Backpage Petition Delivery

On Thursday, March 29, over 100 Groundswell supporters and 20 members of clergy gathered in New York City to deliver more than 240,000 petition signatures to the headquarters of the Village Voice. See below for photos, statements, a press release, press accounts, and information on attendees and sponsors of the effort.

At the rally, faith leaders, City Council members, community members, and advocates delivered dozens of pairs of girls shoes to the front door of the Village Voice to symbolize the lost childhoods of these exploited girls that have been sold for sex via ads on Backpage.com's adult section. 

Photos | The Village Voice in New York City. Village Voice Media operates 13 weeklies around the country. In October, Groundswell convened a coalition of clergy to launch a full-page advertisement in The New York Times urging Village Voice Media to shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com

WHO: Multi-faith religious leaders, activists, and legislators concerned about the sex ads of minors on Backpage.com. Speakers include:

  • - Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary
  • - Rev. Galen Guengerich, All Souls Unitarian
  • - Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdahl, Central Synagogue
  • - John Buffalo Mailer, son of The Village Voice co-founder Norman Mailer
  • - New York City Council members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Stephen Levin, co-sponsors of a resolution calling for the Adult section of Backpage.com to be closed.

New York City Councilmember Margaret Chin to attend. A statement from a survivor trafficked by pimps who advertised her on Backpage.com to be read.

WHAT: Rally and press event to deliver a Change.org petition with over 225,000 signatures from individuals calling on Village Voice Media to cease publishing ads on Backpage.com that may result in the sex trafficking of children and teens.

WHEN: Today – Thursday, March 29 – at 11 am ET

WHERE: 36 Cooper Square in New York City, outside of The Village Voice office, near the Astor Place and 4,5,6 MTA.

Nineteen United States Senators, 51 of the nation’s attorneys general, 53 anti-trafficking experts and organizations, and state lawmakers around the country, among others, have called for Village Voice Media to shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com, which services nearly 400 markets. New York City Council members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Stephen Levin, among others, submitted a resolution this month making the same demand. They state that Village Voice Media is profiting from the exploitation of children.

The attorneys general have identified at least 22 states where children have been trafficked for sex using advertisements on Backpage.com. A recent case in New York involved a 15-year old Long Island girl who was drugged, gang-raped, and advertised on Backpage.com. This is just one horrific example of the abuses experienced by minors who have been sold for sex by others placing advertisements of them on Backpage.com

LINKS:

Live signature totals from Groundswell’s petition on Change.org:
http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-village-voice-media-to-stop-child-sex-trafficking-on-backpagecom

 Information on Groundswell’s campaign on Backpage.com:
http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/take-action-to-protect-our-children/

 New York Times coverage of the campaign:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/kristof-where-pimps-peddle-their-goods.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

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Attendees & Sponsors

The following individuals and organizations attended or sponsored the event:

The Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary
John Buffalo Mailer, son of the late Norman Mailer (co-founder of The Village Voice)
Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdahl
Letitia James, New York City Council Member
Stephen Levin, New York City Council Member
Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council Member
Margaret Chin, New York City Council Member
Debbie Almontaser
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
Rev. Galen Guengrich, All Souls Unitarian 
The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, Judson Memorial Church
The Rev. Michael Ellick, Judson Memorial Church
Reverend Lorena M. Parrish, Fort Washington Collegiate Church
Rabbi Burt Visotzky
ECPAT-USA
Equality Now
GEMS (Girls Education & Mentoring Services)
Interfaith Center of New York
Jewish Council on Public Affairs
North Avenue Presbyterian Church
Occupy Faith
Restore NY
Sanctuary for Families



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