Lawmakers and residents in Queens held a rally Sunday against lewd advertisements that they say are littering the streets. NY1’s Mara Montalbano filed the following report.
Parents say flyers of scantily-clad women is not what they want their children to see when they are walking to church on a Sunday morning or school during the week.
They say the flyers – known as chica chica cards – advertise prostitutes.
"They're small, colorful. Your kids pick them up and they say, 'Look, mommy. Look what I found,'” said Jackson Heights resident Nuala O’Doherty. “There's no good explanation. There's no way to explain sex trafficking and prostitution to a five year old."
“What's happening is that these cards are being picked up. They're being traded like baseball cards,” said State Senator Jose Peralta of Queens.
The state senator is pushing a bill that would make the flyers illegal to distribute.
Peralta says they're usually handed out at night near train stations and many of them end up littering streets, like Roosevelt Avenue. While a cleaning crew had picked up most of them by Sunday afternoon, Peralta says they're usually not cleaned up before children get to school Monday morning.
Lawmakers say getting rid of the flyers would be a big step in an ongoing effort to clean up the streets of Corona.
"Behind this curtain is a whole other world that lives on Roosevelt Avenue,” said City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras of Queens. “It's the world of prostitution. It's the world of sex trafficking. It's the world of narcotics and it's time that we take our Roosevelt Avenue back because this community belongs to all of us. "
Peralta admits he may run into problems with the legislation -- as it may contradict a person's right to freedom of speech -- but he says he hopes to make this bill succeed where similar legislation has failed in the past.
“Current penal code has talked about, in vagueness, has talked about the distribution of lewd, nude, materials,” Peralta said. “What we have done is make it specific. We have included specifically these cards, the handing out of these cards.”
While Peralta says there isn't much local law enforcement can do about it, the Guardian Angels say they will be patrolling the streets in hopes of deterring people from handing the flyers out.