Prostitute group threatens to occupy mayor's office

The Vancouver Sun


 Wednesday, April 7, 1999.

An organization representing Vancouver prostitutes has threatened to occupy Mayor Philip Owen's office over his lack of support for a reward to find 21 women who have disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"I have been involved in a takeover of the council chambers in the past, so if the mayor runs away I will do it again," Jamie Lee Hamilton said Tuesday.

Hamilton is director of Grandma's House, a drop-in centre and safe house for Vancouver sex trade workers in the city's poorest neighbourhood.

Her comments came after Owen, chairman of the Vancouver police board, and a Vancouver police media representative indicated they do not favour issuing a reward.

Hamilton and others are asking for a $100,000 reward for information about 21 Vancouver women who have disappeared since 1995.  They believe the women are victims of a serial killer who preys upon Vancouver's sex trade workers in the belief that they are a low priority with law enforcement officials.

Police, however, maintain there is no evidence the women are victims of crime.

 They say the women are involved in either or both the illegal drug or sex trade and could just be missing.  The women are sometimes missing for long periods before there disappearance is reported.

Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh said Monday he would favour the province contributing to a reward if a request came from the police.

But media liaison officer Constable Anne Drennan said offering rewards is usually used as a last-ditch attempt when there are no leads in criminal investigations such as murders, not missing persons.

"Right now, it's difficult to imagine how the reward system would lend itself to this kind of file." Drennan said.

Owen indicated his lack of enthusiasm for a reward in a Vancouver Sun story published Tuesday.

John Turvey, director of the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society, said if a reward is not issued, other possibilities should be considered.

Turvey said the city's poorest prostitutes have been pushed into dark industrial areas by police responding to pressure to keep them away from residential and retail areas.  He said more visible policing and lighting could be used to increase safety for sex trade workers.

Turvey said police should also consult with prostitutes to negotiate how a police presence could be established in the areas where they do business. 

Women are vanishing-does anyone care?
No bodies, no clues-Seattle Times
Calgary Sun-Aug 9, 1999



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