Today in Hotlanta: Crossdressing prostitutes becoming more violent in Midtown

Today in Hotlanta residents in Midtown have been dealing with the problem of cross-dressing prostitutes for decades. They say it is way past time to find a way to rid their streets of them.  Indeed, it's one of the enduring mysteries of the city. How exactly did the Piedmont and Ponce section of Midtown, with its stately homes and upscale apartments, become the prime location for that particular type of pandering; and why has it been so hard to get rid of?

After all, both neighbors and police have been pro-active in trying to fight it; both have even run their own undercover operations to get video evidence of the criminal activity. Neighbors have also gone to court en masse to prosecute the prostitutes.

The situation has become even more critical than it has been in the past, given warnings that the prostitutes have become more "aggressive" and pose a threat to anyone who tries to confront them.

"Ten or twelve prostitutes standing in the streets waving at cars, shaking their booty, wearing prostitute clothes," resident Michael Orloff said, describing a typical street scene on any given night. "There are times when the prostitutes actually get into arguments amongst themselves over a john."

Up until recently, it has mostly been an unseemly nuisance for homeowners who've had to chase the streetwalkers and johns from their yards and parking spaces. But lately, private police who patrol the neighborhood say some of the cross-dressers have been getting violent, even robbing and beating people on the street.

"Oh yeah, they said it was about three or four there who approached them," said one neighbor who says his friends were attacked and robbed. "They gave them everything they wanted, but they still kind of beat them up. I think it was most likely the cross-dressers and their pimps."

Atlanta police say they have a few things planned for the Midtown area in the coming weeks to try and push the prostitutes out of the community. The city council is also looking into a law that would prohibit prostitutes from returning to streets where they were arrested before.

But vice cops say it's important that residents or passers-by not confront the streetwalkers, even if they're in the commission of a crime.

"That's kind of what generates the retaliation from the prostitutes and the other people that are out there committing crimes," said Lt. Scott Kreher of the APD Vice Unit. "They want to retaliate against the person that's approaching them."

The Midtown Ponce Security Alliance says many of the prostitutes are armed with knives or rocks, noting that while their numbers have diminished over the years, they have also become more combative in how they deal with residents.

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