Real-Life Superheroes Offer Sex Workers Protection From the Long Island Serial Killer

by Violet Blue on April 25, 2011

New York Initiative real life superheroesThe Long Island Serial Killer has dismembered and murdered possibly up to ten women, and all of the victims are sex workers. Many feel that because they are sex workers the victims (and any potential victims) have not been treated respectfully (or seriously) by the press – and some say, the police as well.

Real life superhero vigilantes in New York – the New York Initiative – have decided to step in and have sworn to do everything they can to protect sex workers from the Long Island Serial Killer. They are offering brute-force, no questions asked protection – because they believe police are inadequate:

The Long Island Killer is out there. He’s a scary bastard, and it’s starting to seem like he is focusing on you pretty ladies because some people are slower to report you missing, and also because apparently the law doesn’t respect your personal choices and that means cops are slower to follow through when it comes to you. Well, I’m here to say FUCK THAT. We respect you as human beings, we believe in personal freedoms and think that you’re doing something that is absolutely your choice to do.

Members of the New York Initiative are trained in martial arts, and use weapons. They can be found on the New York Initiative Facebook Page, and have also issued a statement to sex workers and are offering concrete systems in which they can be employed for protection on this Craigslist New York ad. NYI’s posting also promises:

We will react quickly and without hesitation every time, using our considerable contacts to the full extent of their reach.

We also want to extend to you our services as the NYI: Namely, practical martial arts training free of charge, as well as improvised weapons training free of charge (i.e. pens, phones, keys)…Add to this basic to advanced survival skills, or pretty much anything else you want to know about that will keep you safe out there.

We care about you. We want you alive, in this world, just like everyone else. Because you’re a human being, and you are deserving of love. The NYI loves you, and we’re here to bust the asses of any asshole trying to hurt you.

This is just one of the ways we can get the Long Island Killer off the streets, as well as make what you do safer.

Let me say one more time that we won’t involve law enforcement unless you are in serious danger. The logs will be kept personal and private, because what do the police need to know about your personal life, right? It’s just a date, for cryin’ out loud.

Be safe out there, whatever you choose. You are no longer alone.

New York Initiative ad on Craigslist offering sex workers protection from the Long Island Serial Killer

Click the above image for full-size text; NYI has specifically requested that people spread the ad, and its message far and wide, and encourage reposting. The group was featured in the documentary about real life superheroes, “Superheroes” by Michael Barnett (image via). NYI’s members also have cool superhero names, such as Dark Guardian, Blindside, BattleStar, Skinner and Shade.

There are more cool photos of NYI in their armor and gear in this Facebook album.

(Some information via; thanks for the tip Juliette)

{ 13 comments }

1 Ashly May 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I just want to say that I think the NYI is an awesome effort to help protect sex workers! I support you guys 100% and wish there was some way I could help (is there?) You guys are great, thank you so much for standing up for those that no one else will!

2 ZERO April 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm

http://www.facebook.com/NewYorkInitiative

Seriously. If you can help, or have ideas to get something done, come post. I’ll plug the information everywhere, and credit you with it. No problem.

This is part of what I’m trying to do: http://www.ted.com/talks/david_logan_on_tribal_leadership.html

We’re not interested in patting ourselves on the back, or ego boosting. We want to knock down all the communication walls, and allow people to see that though we disagree, we all deserve safety and we all deserve love.

That’s all.

3 ZERO April 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

And let us not forget, concerning the message, just how careful we had to be with our language.

4 Zero April 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

1. We ARE offering free martial arts training. Read the entire message before you judge someone.

2. We aren’t privileged in the least. The only one of us who makes decent money dumps it right back into the team, and into provisions for homeless outreach when we nightwalk. As of right now we have no backup system.

3. We are using the public platform to get the message out about the real work being done, and any ways one can help it GET done. I’m shaking my head at the media sensationalism just as much as you are, but just like the homeless problem that we’ve been dealing with for years, what we’ve found is this; The media and the public doesn’t give a shit until you wrap it up nice and pretty. Rather than bitch and complain about how much that sucks, we’re using the tool we have to its utmost potential.

4. We ARE shaming the NYPD. You better believe it, I just did two interviews ripping them a new hole, add to that how much proof we have that they don’t do jack shit about anything but the “nice” areas… We live in Bedstuy/Bushwick, Brooklyn. We see it daily.

5. We gave three ideas in the letter. One of them was a system that didn’t even involve us. Again, please don’t judge or imply that we’re stupid in the least. We’re offering all we can as people who don’t have backup from the law. Better than sitting on our asses and saying “someone should do something, no?

6. We are ABSOLUTELY ready to PUBLICLY support whatever you think is going to help. I will personally plaster it up everywhere I can. I believe in decriminalization of the sex trade. Only then will there be safety.

7. We didn’t receive any email from you. Might have sent it to the wrong addy.

8. “pretty ladies”… I mean all ladies. All human beings are beautiful. I really didn’t think anyone would take issue with that… I mean, pretty is in the eye of the beholder, and when you look at the context of the situation, it’d be pretty stupid to assume we’d only protect the Julia Roberts lookalikes. I mean, come on.

Once again, any info you might have on how we can get this problem solved, use us as your personal soapbox. It’s exactly what we’re doing this for, to get the word out and save lives.

-ZERO

5 violet April 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm

It seems like free, trained, security services might be a welcome option for some people while they work. Even better that it’s people of varying genders that are also offering accountability for their work by putting their own community’s reputation on the line.

So I guess my question for Audacia is this:

You used to be a sex worker. What did you do for security?

6 violet April 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Audacia, thanks for the comment. By what you said above, I don’t think you’re aware that there are women in NYI, and I don’t think it’s safe to assume all its members identify as men. They also never suggested that anyone was more worth helping than anyone else: you have no idea what they meant by “pretty” or even “ladies.” Do you know something we don’t about NYI only helping certain people, being trans phobic, or having conventional standards of beauty? I’d like to know what one of their female members says about this. We don’t even know who these people are, or their backgrounds, or who their lovers and family are. Let alone any underlying motivations.

I just see a lot read into NYI by your comment. A lot of judgment, which surprised me.

They are, in fact, shaming the police – in a pretty confrontational way, and in the press. Nowhere in their language did they say anything like “pat on the head” about sex worker communities – because that would be inappropriate and condescending. Like putting martial arts skills in quotes. Did they do something awful we don’t know about to deserve this comment?

I hope you understand that I’m your friend and unrelenting supporter, but while I agree with some of your points, your comment is really confusing.

I think that NYI is trying to do a good thing, and have made it clear they’re doing so because the police have failed. And I can see that they have given a lot of people hope. People who feel helpless to do anything about what’s happening to your community. It’s totally wanted and needed for you (or someone) to speak for your community and tell all of us on the outside how to help. But it just seems like you’re trashing the positive intent of people who mean well. There can be many ways to help, and to give hope, I think. Plus, the news item raised a ton of awareness. Can there be a positive here, at all?

I hope I can disagree with you and you will still be my friend. You write something and I’ll link to it, no conditions. My respect for you stands.

PS: I was sent this by a sex worker, and not the privileged kind, and she was not only elated by the item but helped with post research and shared it with her community once we posted this. I don’t know if that informs your perspective, or not.

7 AnthonyA April 27, 2011 at 9:28 am

As has been said many times before: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to stand aside and do nothing.” You, sirs, of the NYI, are at least doing something. Hats off to you, and good luck!

8 Audacia Ray April 27, 2011 at 7:30 am

I wrote an email to the New York Initiative this morning, sharing info about what sex workers and allies have been doing to protect ourselves, including the ask for amnesty that so far hasn’t gotten an official response, except that I do know that the Suffolk County Police Department is doing research on it as a possibility.

I am infinitely frustrated that the story is getting as much traction as it is. Can we not pat the NYI on the head, and instead focus the attention on actual sex workers who are in danger, and useful responses to this issue? The amount of publicity NYI is receiving is a clear message that the perspectives of masked men who want to swoop in and rescue “pretty ladies” are more valid that the perspectives of people who are actually doing sex work and coming up with solutions to keep ourselves safe.

This kind of savior syndrome is conditional too – what if the ladies in question aren’t pretty? or cis? or have other characteristics that don’t make them perfect victims?

Furthermore, why can’t the NYI volunteer their “martial arts skills” and offer self defense trainings, instead of assuming we want strange, well-meaning men up in our business.

Maybe the NYI could use their power and privilege to shame the police on Long Island for their terrible responses, and the fact that they are continuing to arrest sex workers in the area instead of coming up with ways to keep us safe.

9 DexterWhereAreYou? April 27, 2011 at 12:48 am

I hope these guys are for real, nerd or not. This LIK guy is scarey.

10 Zero April 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

@Azkyroth:

It’s not.

It’s just one step in the direction of something better for everyone. We’re prepared to network and communicate with ANYONE looking to make ANY change in the apathy and destruction running rampant in the world.

If you know of any way we can help, let us know.

ZERO, of the New York Initiative

11 Alex April 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Seems like semi nerds trying to make a difference with their martial skills, I’m all for it.

12 Azkyroth April 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I really, really, really hope this doesn’t turn out to be a false front for something sleazy and destructive. :(

13 L. April 26, 2011 at 4:08 am

*Bravo*

~ and challenge the bullies of the world (because that’s all that murderers are) ~

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