We reject the call for increased policing in response to this tragedy. The impulse to call for increased policing is even greater in the midst of rising anti-Asian violence calling for carceral punishment. We understand the pain that motivates our Asian and Asian-American community members’ call for increased policing, but we nevertheless stand against it. Policing has never been an effective response to violence because the police are agents of white supremacy. Policing has never kept sex workers or massage workers or immigrants safe. The criminalization and demonization of sex work has hurt and killed countless people–many at the hands of the police both directly and indirectly. Due to sexist racialized perceptions of Asian women, especially those engaged in vulnerable, low-wage work, Asian massage workers are harmed by the criminalization of sex work, regardless of whether they engage in it themselves.
Decriminalization of sex work is the only way that sex workers, massage workers, sex trafficking survivors, and anyone criminalized for their survival and/or livelihood will ever be safe.