Pick Up Your Picket Signs: Why “Clean Up Kennedy” is Important

Pick Up Your Picket Signs: Why “Clean Up Kennedy” is Important
By: Carrie Pinkard

            If you’re a Tampa resident who regularly drives down Kennedy Boulevard you may have noticed a group of very sweaty people waving “Clean Up Kennedy” picket signs. You likely wondered: Who are these people? What does it mean exactly to “Clean Up Kennedy”? Or Why are these protesters so unbelievably good looking? Read on and your Clean Up Kennedy questions will be answered.

            The people holding the picket signs are Tampa citizens from a group called “Clean Up Kennedy: Fighting Human Trafficking in Tampa Bay.” This group seeks to close down the massage businesses on Kennedy Boulevard that offer illicit services at the expense of exploiting women. Many Tampa citizens drive by these massage parlors everyday and don’t realize they are essentially “storefronts for sex” and hubs for human trafficking.

“Clean Up Kennedy” is all about bringing community awareness to an issue that for too long has been brushed under the rug. It’s a movement that aims to give a voice to the voiceless women who have been coerced to work in these spas against their will. “Clean Up Kennedy” believes that protests will bring awareness, awareness will put pressure on Tampa’s elected officials, and finally the elected officials will enact legislation that will crack down on these illicit massage businesses.

            A recent victory came for the group when Seven Star Spa located on Kennedy Boulevard shut its doors for good. Reportedly, the landlord asked the spa owner to evacuate the building and the owner complied. This evacuation occurred after weeks of Clean up Kennedy protesting outside of the spa, holding signs like “Spa or Brothel?” and “End Sex Trafficking in Tampa Bay”. Ask yourself, if they had nothing to hide, would they have left the building?

            Clean Up Kennedy’s tenacious founder, Joe Manson, celebrated the closing of Seven Star Spa on August 4th, but not without acknowledging all the work that is left to be done.

“In the midst of our celebration we must acknowledge that our job is not over… The women who were inside Seven Star Spa are somewhere else now. And it’s probably not a better place. They’ve probably been sent to another massage parlor or brothel.  We must turn our focus to the remaining illicit massage businesses open on Kennedy Boulevard and continue fighting for these women.”

            Clean Up Kennedy is important because it shows what can happen when one concerned citizen decides it’s time to speak up about an issue they’re passionate about. Joe Manson decided he was no longer going to sit back and allow these businesses to exploit women in the neighborhood he grew up in. He gathered a few friends, started a Facebook group, and began expressing his concern at Tampa City Council meetings.

            This group has grown from an idea in one man’s head to a movement that has garnered local news coverage, 1,500 supporters on Facebook, and increasing community involvement. As the citizens of Tampa become aware of what’s happening behind closed doors of these massage parlors, they’re showing up to help.

            If you would like to join the group of unbelievably good looking protesters who picket on Kennedy Boulevard, or get more involved in Clean Up Kennedy in any way, you can connect with them on social media or through email. 


 Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of The Clean Up Kennedy Project.

If you are interested in writing an article to be featured on this site email us at CleanUpKennedy@gmail.com



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