The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved a resolution calling on Village Voice Media, the publisher of Citypages, to stop publishing the adult ad section of Backpage.com. The city says the website "facilitates the trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation."
"When I published the Twin Cities Reader in the 1990s, we turned down ads from Backpage.com because we refused to participate in the trafficking of women and children. It cost us a lot of money, but it was the right thing to do," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. "Times have changed: now, ending sex trafficking is a national priority, and Minneapolis police and city attorneys are doing incredible work to fight it right here. I'm pleased that today, the Minneapolis City Council joined the fight by calling on Village Voice Media to shut down the adult section of Backpage.com."
Earlier this month, Minneapolis police said all 20 child sex-trafficking cases investigated so far in 2012 involved juvenile victims being marketed and "sold" via Backpage.com.
"They are a cooperative partner when we are involved in investigations. Certainly, we are able to access information through the proper legal channels," Capt. Amelia Huffman, of the Minneapolis Police Department. "But the fact that they continue to exist simply provides an easy and readily-available marketplace for people who are willing to engage in trafficking
"Combating child prostitution and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation is a top priority for the City of Minneapolis and has been a focus for Minneapolis police, the city attorney's office and other city staff and community partners," said council member Elizabeth Glidden. "We've made progress on this, and calling for the shutdown of this website is a great step, but there is much more we are planning to do to end the sexual exploitation of youth."
Village Voice Media has a web page devoted to sex trafficking that calls for the passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate to provide funding for housing and counseling to children that are victims of the sex trade.