MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A national movement is calling for advertisers to boycott City Pages in response to adult classifieds.
The controversy is over the website Backpage.com, which, along with City Pages, is owned by Village Voice Media.
Some say the adult classifieds on the site promote sex trafficking and underage prostitution. But City Pages says it’s not the problem.
For 26 years, Adele’s Frozen Custard in Excelsior has been a community favorite. Recently, owner Jai Buikema advertised in City Pages to pull in some back to school business.
“It’s a community-based magazine that people pick up everywhere. And so I think we felt that it would reach out to most people,” Buikema said.
The advertisement did help, but after learning about the controversy over adult ads on City Pages sister website Backstage.com, managers say they might advertise somewhere else.
“Now knowing that information, we would most likely have to think twice about advertising with them again,” Buikema said.
The call to action comes from the New York-based website Villagevoicepimp.com, run by William Hayes. He wants Village Voice Media, which owns City Pages and several similar papers across the country, to stop what he calls the promotion of sex trafficking and other sex crimes against involving children and teens.
“I would like to see children, female children, not sex trafficked. Simple as that,” Hayes said.
It’s an issue local law enforcement is already dealing with. In June, Minneapolis Police said at least 20 child sex trafficking cases had ties to Backpage.com. The Minneapolis City Council also recently addressed the issue, calling for Village Voice Media to cease publication of the classified site.
As part of a statement on the controversy, Village Voice General Counsel Liz McDougall says that their website is not the root of the problem.
“We all agree that the exploitation of children is a social atrocity and it needs to be stopped. The idea that the adult section of Backpage is responsible is misguided, and takes attention away from the core root of the problem. We need to focus on cracking down on pimps and johns abusing these children,” McDougall said.
The Hennepin County Bar Association has decided not to renew its advertising contract with City Pages.
Other advertisers say they need time to think about it.