Group tags vacant motel in support of respect for sex workers

SEATTLE -- A group calling itself Grrrl Army used spray paint to transform a motel into a political billboard about prostitution.

The feminist group left the painted message on the Italia-Isabella Motel, which shut down more than a year ago over problems with prostitution. The group says it wanted to make a statement about equality, but some say the result is no more than an eyesore.

"People try to put sex workers and especially prostitutes in this very separate category of 'person that's not worth respect,"' said one Grrrl Army group member who wished to remain anonymous.

The woman said the graffiti carries a message: everyone deserves dignity and respect, even women and girls who work the streets.

"They are human beings," said the woman. "We all owe it to each other to keep all of us safe."

Neighbors, however, are a little taken aback. They say the building was an eyesore in the past, but the transformation by Grrrl Army wasn't exactly what they had in mind.

"I'm like not against their message, but this is just like our house, our neighborhood. It's not like a billboard to post your opinions," said area resident Brian Smoak.

Grrrl Army did not seek the building owner's permission, and tagging private property is a crime. But the group member who spoke to KOMO News said the message is worth the risk.

"I hope that for that building in specific, sex workers feel more supported," she said, adding the message is intended for pimps and Johns as well. "I hope that they think about what their role is in all of this, and how they are affecting other people."