PRESS RELEASE: Vital communications cut for people of color and trans led group during #COVID19


Contacts: 

N’Jaila Rhee, newjerseyrua@gmail.com

P. Saunders, bestpracticespolicyproject@gmail.com

Vital communications cut for people of color and trans led group during #COVID19

Newark, NJ – April 10, 2020  – The Best Practices Policy Projects is working with a network of sex worker rights and trans led organization to get life saving support to community members in need due to COVID-19. The Twitter account of our key New Jersey partner New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance (NJRUA) has been restricted for three weeks. This restriction cut off access to hundreds of workers in the sex trades who communicate with NJRUA via Twitter direct message to receive direct services such as referrals to health care, emergency food, and time sensitive support for domestic violence that has been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of equal importance to these messages are communications from victims of the serial rapist Joey Torres who was arrested by Federal agents in February 2020. 

“NJRUA has been unable to access messages from victims of the serial rapist Joey Torres for several weeks,” says N’Jaila Rhee one of the coordinators of the grassroots service service providers. “NJRUA has been silenced. We are very worried about the impact that this will have on women who have endured silencing for so long.”

“Our efforts to provide services to sex workers, transgender people, immigrants and low income women during COVID-19 have been eviscerated by what Twitter has done,” says Janet Duran who provides outreach services for NJRUA. “These days many people are looking to Twitter to communicate with service providers. No one can find us. The clock is ticking and people need our help.”

Penelope Saunders, PhD, the coordinator of the Best Practices Policy Project says, “As a public health professional, I am very concerned about the restriction placed on NJRUA at such a crucial time. Grassroots organizations, those led by the communities in need, are the most effective in getting resources out quickly and reducing harm. Communications companies like Twitter have a public responsibility and duty of care to ensure that recognized non-profits organizations have access to the services they provide. Otherwise COVID-19 will continue to impact the most marginalized.”

The New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance (NJRUA) is a working alliance of activists and allies who are dedicated to promoting, defending, and advocating for the human rights of sex workers in the state of New Jersey. The Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP) is dedicated to supporting organizations and advocates working with sex workers, people in the sex trade and related communities in the United States. Everything that we do is guided by principles that protect the rights of people who engage in commercial sex in all its forms.

Find out more at: 

NJRUA: https://njrua.org/

BPPP: http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org

The arrest of Joey Torres: https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/new-jersey-man-charged-coercing-and-enticing-commercial-sex-workers