Prosperous Minneapolis Commercial Area Blighted by Proliferation of Adult Enterprises

From the “Brief of the Neighborhood Pornography Task Force, Amicus Curiae, in Support of Appellant Hudnut v. American Booksellers Association, Inc.”, published in In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (p.321-324):

The neighborhoods bordering on East Lake Street in South Minneapolis have been fighting the encroachment of pornography into their community since Ferris Alexander opened his first bookstore and theater on Chicago Avenue and Lake Street in 1974. Concerned residents picketed theaters, conducted tours of bookstores and waged a media campaign to alert the public about the brutalization, violence and crime that pornography was causing in their neighborhood. But, by 1976, Ferris Alexander owned three adult bookstores on Lake Street and other pornographers owned two more. Public pressure clearly had not succeeded….

From 1978 to 1983, while residents of South Minneapolis awaited a court decision on the zoning law, conditions in the neighborhood worsened. The harassment and intimidation experienced by women who live in neighborhoods with a high concentration of pornography was documented before the Minneapolis City Council during public hearings on the civil rights ordinance on pornography. A woman from St. Paul who lived in a neighborhood with two adult movie theaters and bookstores and one adults only “club” testified that she had been propositioned several times by men who were looking for prostitutes. She said that parents fear for their children’s safety and women who live in the neighborhood feel unsafe, constantly vulnerable to harassment and rape by the customers of the adult establishments.

Residents of the neighborhoods bordering on East Lake Street in Minneapolis experience the same harassment and fear. The presence of two adult theaters, three adult bookstores and three saunas on a thirteen block span by 1983 left them no choice but to be aware of the pornography and of the harassment, intimidation and blight that is associated with it. The crime rates, especially for prostitution related offenses, are higher in neighborhoods bordering on East Lake Street than in other areas of the city… The present of adult establishments has created a hostile and aggressive zone for women and children. Women who live and work in the neighborhood are harassed and propositioned by men who come into the neighborhoods to buy pornography or pay for sex. One woman who lives in the neighborhood stated: “I get to work every day using the bus. The men who come out of this store [at 4th and Lake] look you up and down in a very lewd gaze. It’s insulting to be treated like a prostitute when you’re just waiting for a bus.” Women live in constant fear of rape because women are the victims in areas with high crime and violence. Women who live in the neighborhood are not safe on their own streets at night. They cannot shop, visit friends, wait for buses or buy groceries in peace. Women who live outside the neighborhood also do not feel safe in coming here…

The adult establishments also affect the lives of children in the neighborhood. They are forced to view the posters advertising such movies at Hot Dallas Nights, and often can find abandoned pornographic materials in the alleys behind adult bookstores. Parents find it impossible to protect their children from the influence or pornography and from the aggression of strangers.

The adult bookstores and theaters which now line Lake Street have indelibly marked the character of the business community. Once a prosperous commercial area, East Lake Street now is characterized by decline and deterioration. Many legitimate businesses have moved out of the neighborhood and new ones have not replaced them. Business owners are frightened by the real possibility of business failure. When women do not feel safe on the streets, they will not come to the stores to shop. Legitimate businesses do not want to subject their employees, especially women employees, to harassment from the customers of the adult bookstores and theaters.

People in this neighborhood are demoralized and increasingly cynical about the fairness of the political process and of the legal system itself.

See also:

Testimony in Minneapolis: Secondary Effects Around Adult Theaters; Police Suggest that Concerned Citizens Move Away
The police have gone to the Flick and tried to bust it time and time again. Finally the police in our residence have said, forget it, we are giving up, nothing has been done. We are not going in there and taking the chance of having our heads blown off. Us, the people that live in the neighborhood, we have to fear that day in and day out, especially the women.

Porn Merchant Implies: Host Community Put at Risk So Outsiders Might Enjoy Themselves
“We’ll be helping the community, maybe not Berlin, but surrounding communities,” Porter said jokingly, “community service is what we’re all about.”

Capital Video’s Springfield Porn Shop Repels Sought-After Businesses
[Fred Rowe:] A lot of the neighborhood people are rightfully frustrated that not much has happened with the building. When we took it over, the significant problems with the tenancy in the building–the people who had been busted for dealing drugs out of one of the storefronts, and an illegal late-night social club on the second floor. We kind of cleaned all that up, and we replaced some of the tenants, but it remains mostly vacant throughout. We’re trying to retenant it with things that are really going to add to the neighborhood. Not the traditional things you see around–we’re trying to really reinvigorate it with some exciting stuff. The [potential grocery] market is really the key, we think, to the whole building. The people that come, the market operator–their issue is number one, the Video Expo [Amazing.net] across the street, and the crowd that you see around it…

Capital Video Springfield: Secondary Effects Extend to Prostitution; Actions the City Can Take
[Fred Rowe:] Outside, we have both male and female prostitutes standing across the street, by our building, and we have a vacant lot that we use for parking. They stand there, and they wait for [customers] to come out, and they solicit them, and they try to take them out behind our building, and do their business. It’s unbelievable.

Businessman to Russell Denver: “You’re a facilitator”
We’ve all heard from businesspeople, and real estate developers in particular, that New England has too much regulation and it’s impeding growth. Here, however, we’re hearing from Mr. Denver [president of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield] and Robert Greeley [leasing agent for 135 King Street in Northampton] that if it’s not actually against the law, businesspeople have the right to do whatever they want no matter what the consequences. Such an attitude intensifies the people’s mistrust of business, and encourages the regulations that business finds onerous.

State Land-Use Planner: “Once the ‘use’ is located in your community, it’s very difficult to get rid of them”
Donald J. Schmidt, principal land-use planner for the state Executive Office of Communities and Development (Massachusetts): “If communities take time now to look at their zoning regulations, you can really lessen the impact dramatically so (an adult-entertainment business) doesn’t pop up next
to a high school, church or day-care center, to use those as examples.”

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