The phone at Carol Stuart’s shared Potrero Hill home rang regularly in 1998—often from sex workers, often when they needed legal assistance. Usually, they called when someone needed to reach her roommate., activist Margo St. James, the founder of Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, or COYOTE, a groundbreaking San Francisco-based sex workers’ rights organization. But when Stuart, who “This woman said, ‘I was arrested last night and I just went to court and the judge dismissed the charges and let me go, but last night they took my blood,’” Stuart remembers. The woman on the phone said that the blood test had been done without her consent or an explanation of the nature of the test, and she wanted to know if that was legal. “I said, ‘Hell no,’” Stuart remembers. Stuart recalled that her response to the call was influenced by the knowledge that filled her shared home. In addition to St. James, the house was also occupied by St. James’s husband Paul Avery, known for his reporting on the Zodiac killer, and Carlton Smith, a journalist who wrote about the Green River Killer. There was a sense of outrage at the exploitation of vulnerable populations that united… Read full this story
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