- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015
Backpage ad site: Aider of traffickers, or way to stop them?

CHICAGO (AP) - Is the huge classified ad site an abettor of sexual trafficking and exploitation, or a beacon of free expression? Does it generate crime, or help solve it?

To many who’ve seen the seemingly endless and unadulterated invitations for sex on Backpage.com - promising to fulfill “Your Kinkiest Dreams,” among other things - the answer to such questions is pretty clear-cut, especially since some of the escorts in the ads have been found to be minors forced into the sex trade.

“How is it possibly legal to help pimps sell kids? Since when is that legal in the United States of America?” asked Erik Bauer, an attorney in Tacoma, Washington, who is representing four young women in a lawsuit against Backpage. They are seeking damages from the site because their convicted traffickers used it to sell them to johns when they were 7th and 9th graders.

Unlike Craigslist, another major site, which gave in to persistent calls to drop its escort ads nearly five years ago, Backpage has defied the pressure. Since then, it has become the dominant online player in the adult ad industry in the United States and, increasingly, internationally.

Invoking both the First Amendment and the federal Communications Decency Act, Backpage general counsel Liz McDougall argues that the site and its employees do not write the ads but merely provide the space to do so.


4 bicyclists hurt as man throws concrete in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minneapolis police are trying to figure out who is hurling chunks of concrete at random people.

There have been five assaults since July 20, with three in rapid succession Aug. 7, according to the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1IO5PEBhttps://strib.mn/1IO5PEB ).

Four victims were on bicycles, and one was in a car. Two bicyclists were seriously injured and two were slightly injured. The person in the car was not injured.

“The suspect is believed to possibly work construction as one victim noted a yellow vest,” according to a police statement. He is believed to be in his 20s, police said. Police spokesman John Elder said earlier that the driver was wearing a glove and was believed to have thrown with his left hand.

According to police, each victim was approached by a motorist as he drove “in an erratic manner” before throwing concrete.


Minneapolis police say missing boy found safe and sound

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minneapolis police say they have located a missing 11-year-old boy.

In an email, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Sunday afternoon the boy, Terrell Deandre Smith, had been found “safe and sound.”

Smith had been missing since about 6 p.m. Friday when he was last seen heading to a Fairview park.

Officers had searched surrounding areas and talked to his friends but wasn’t able to locate him until Sunday.

Elder did not immediately have any other information Sunday.


Fight breaks out in St. Paul after funeral of 16-year-old

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - St. Paul police are investigating a fight that broke out after the funeral of a 16-year-old shot by a man he allegedly was trying to rob at gunpoint.

Mourners gathered at Cherokee Park after Lavauntai Broadbent’s service Thursday but some started fighting and a 23-year-old was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/1MvmBhYhttps://bit.ly/1MvmBhY ).

Broadbent, of West St. Paul, died July 31 in St. Paul’s Shadow Falls Park. Police said that a man told them that another man wearing a mask and gloves pointed a handgun at him and demanded he empty his pockets. The man, who has a permit to carry a gun, shot the masked man, who was later identified as Broadbent.

The man told police he feared for his life and that of a woman nearby. Police have said the man has cooperated, and they presented the case to prosecutors Friday.

Family friend Shawn Distad said the funeral itself was beautiful. She estimated 200 people attended. Broadbent’s family is “holding in there as best as can be,” Distad said.

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