- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2001

She was a good-looking young thing, and her taut, milk chocolaty skin glistened in the morning sun. Her high-cut, neon-pink bikini and stiletto heels gave her a to-die-for legginess. Still, most of the glances thrown her way were same-sex. The men, mostly construction workers pouring into the 7-Eleven for sunrise java and doughnuts, mocked her. They knew she was a whore. Not the red-light district kind of whore, though. This dangerous whore is a member of what I call the Cracker Jackettes, the streetwalkers who, hooked on crack cocaine, are interested in one thing and only one thing.

Perhaps that is why she and her kind are turn-offs instead of turn-ons for Chuck Ramsey and his brothers. While they prowl the streets in certain D.C. neighborhoods, Chuck and his brothers cruise the same streets, keenly aware of their presence. Some even strike up conversations with them, as the engines in the patrol cars, sometimes lined up three, four and five abreast, while away the clock.

Something's got to be done about these gals, because, frankly, I'm beginning to learn a little more about their, pardon the expression, lifestyle than I need or want to know. As Kenneth Smith, the late deputy editorial page editor used to say, "TMI," as in too much information.

Seriously, these hookers are far more than superficial eyesores on the streets of the nation's capital. They disturb the quality of life, the tranquility of urban life.

Just kidding again, of course, because these so-called ladies of the night (and day, I might add) are indeed dangerous. They are easily manipulated by dope pushers and unmistakenly desperate. While there are kind souls out there who pity them, would like nothing more than to give them shelter, put them in some social program and clean them up, they need far more than a government handout.

"I'll pray for you, sister, because you don't have to do that," I told Miss Thing outside the 7-Eleven, warning her that police would be there soon because their shifts had just changed. Her response almost, and I have to emphasis almost, left me sighing. "They ain't got the time," she retorted, "and I need a dime."

And know what? She's absolutely right.

Nobody or at least not the right somebodies, it seems pays attention to the Cracker Jackettes. Police ignore them as they prance along Rhode Island, New York and Eastern Avenues in Northeast Washington, and along Southern, Alabama and Martin Luther King Avenues in Southeast. The city's lawmakers don't see them because they do not spend time in black neighborhoods. The mayor doesn't see them because he doesn't spend time in any neighborhood.

Chuck Ramsey, the city's police chief, and Terry Gainer, the city's No. 2 copper, don't see them because they spend too much time pimping national TV news and the Chandra Levy/Gary Condit case. While D.C. taxpayers are interested in the obvious criminal implications of that case, we are nonetheless more concerned about closer-to-home daily comings and goings.

Little things first one hooker and then another, first one rundown property and then another do add up. Consider closed roadways. Residents want both Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, which Bill Clinton closed in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing, and Klingle Road near Rock Creek Park, reopened. Both are public safety issues.

Primary interest in the Levy/Condit case spins on public safety. Chuck Ramsey is playing dumb. He recognizes the law-and-order problem posed by crack cocaine but not the public safety threat posed by crack whores. That is, well, unnerving and, moreover, deceitful.

Indeed, Chuck and the boys (including D.C. lawmaker Jack Evans) ran the girls out of downtown Washington's red-light district. While many "traditional" streetwalkers still play cat-and-mouse with the coppers downtown, others have simply gone underground, trying to legitimize their nefarious acts as strippers and lap-dancers. Crack whores, on the other hand, are bodacious.

On weekend summer mornings, they can be spotted prancing near churches and other houses of worship. On weekday mornings, they prefer spots where day laborers gather and landmarks such as parks, public libraries, gas stations and 24-hour conveniece stores places easily accessible to suburban junkies and commuters.

Saturday nights are an entirely different story. I know because I live a half-block from one of their haunts, so I get not only an eyeful, but earfuls. Sometimes I can here the pusher and the whore arguing about money. Sometimes I hear them planning a set up, or arguing about why the set up was foiled. On one occasion, I heard a car bump the curb and a woman yell, "excuse me" so loud I thought it was the driver apologizing to a victim. I peeped (and I do mean peeped) out the window to see the hooker flip her locks to one side before slamming the car door. The car sped off, while the hooker bopped her way up to the avenue. An hour or so later, I saw her getting out of yet a different car.

This particular hooker used to be a young, good-looking thing, too and not so long ago. I'm talking last summer, a mere 12 months ago. These days she just looks ghastly and nasty.

Perhaps by summer's end, after the Levy-Condit thing dies down and the fall political season heats up, Chuck and his boys, or Mayor Williams and his boys, or my council member, Vincent Orange, and his boys, will have noticed that prostitutes don't please everyone.

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