EXCLUSIVE: Pimp turned Seattle 'Street Czar' speaks out

"It's not conventional, people say what the hell is a Street Czar? Of course, you wouldn't understand you are not from the streets… that's why I fit this so perfectly."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

Andre Taylor, the former pimp who was recently named Seattle's Street Czar by mayor Jenny Durkan, does not shy away from his past. In fact, he's spent the last 20 years talking about it.

"God brought me from the gutter, my mother was a prostitute, my dad was a pimp. I was born from the womb of a prostitute by the seed of a pimp. But the context is this is my mother and father and irregardless of how society has seen them, there was no way I could see them in that light… they hugged me they loved me and they cared for me and even though society says this is the scum of the earth this was not my reality."

In asking what was the moment that Taylor decided to leave his criminal life behind Taylor answered "I met my wife. We call people that are not in the lifestyle squares. My wife is a square. Does she want to give this bum a chance… and when I met her I was… at the end of that life… because I got into some trouble in Las Vegas, mind you in Las Vegas [prostitution] is legal. I often say I was a businessman with an escort service.

"It's not something that's out of the ordinary that someone can provide a fake ID and come work for you that's underage. It's not good and it's bad and it happens often when you are running an escort service these are things that can happen. But as a black man running an escort service, he's a pimp and when a white man does it he's a business man. No one has ever looked at Hugh Heffner the way they look at me… but when a white man look at other white men that are operating in this profession they look up to him but a black guy, they… demonize him. Same thing same business but different reality. When I met my wife I was at the end of the life, not to say that the trouble didn't help me make those decisions." He also discussed the hypocrisy of those who criticize prostitution but enable pornography.

Taylor has been criticized by both sides of the political aisle. Those on the right are using his appointment to push a narrative that Seattle defunded SPD in favor of hiring a former pimp and those on the left claim he doesn't speak for them because he is a sell out. Both seem to agree that he is irredeemable because of his past.

"I would be the perfect person to show people their hypocrisy. You can't believe in restorative justice and then try to crucify me…. I come from the streets… Gorgeous Dre as they say who was trafficking minors and raping women and all these kind of stories. I challenged a news outlet the other day… to talk to the young lady that was involved in my case… let her tell her own story… she considers me a mentor to this day because of my change… and she's pissed off that they are using her story and they know nothing about her to try and demonize me. The way I was able to beat a life sentence with the court is she admitted she had a fake ID, admitted that I didn't do any of the horrible things that they said I did and the case was dismissed because of her testimony.”

I asked Taylor what being a "Street Czar" entails and how he envisions the job. Taylor said he sees the job as education and outreach to those at risk. "It's about building relationships. I have relationship with… the fraternal order of police which is supposed to be one of the most right leaning organizations in the country."

Taylor continued "…people who don't understand the lifestyle and never have had the opportunity to speak to somebody who can communicate from the inside out as a child who grew up in it and as an adult who participated in it and ultimately over came it. They only have movies or music as their guidelines. I am not here for perfect people. I know the messaging of the people I need to reach and what they need to hear. It's not conventional, people say what the hell is a Street Czar? Of course, you wouldn't understand you are not from the streets… that's why I fit this so perfectly."

But how does Taylor plan on accomplishing all that by himself, won't he need a bigger budget and more man power?

"The great challenge is as an African American… that are on the streets right now, selling drugs, gang banging, that are pimping or hustling… Why is that? What is the conditions that were created that makes these vices so susceptible to our community, I was one that was susceptible to it. People say pull yourself up by your own bootstraps but we know historically white folks have not pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, they've had great assistance from the federal government… but we are in a condition that we feel like…

"the preservation of life trumps law to us… so whatever the law says we are more concerned with living… we feel like we are gonna go on these streets and make it happen… and it's hard for an individual that does not understand the pits of those poverties to convey to that community that they shouldn't do it especially if they do not see light at the end of the tunnel. I am the light at the end of the tunnel. I am the person that can then say there is life after the streets They remember that guy gorgeous Dre from the movie American Pimp, I remember him too but he's dead now and I use him to be relevant to the people I am trying to reach."

In fact, the position of Street Czar was Taylor's idea not the Mayor's. "The reason I was able to propose this idea to the mayor, I brought it to her, she didn’t bring it to me was because of the work I have been doing…"

Taylor's organization Not This Time was founded in the wake of the death of his brother Che who was  killed by police while they were trying to arrest him for a felony and he reached for a weapon. Taylor discussed Not this Time hosting events like "Conversations With The Streets," bringing in speakers and trying to build bridges with different communities:

"Creating space for families that have lost people to police violence, sponsoring those families and those children… families of all races… they are not aware of that. They are not aware of 'Conversations With The Streets' that we brought black leaders from all over the country to come here to speak to this little tiny demographic of black people here in Seattle about anti violence and drugs and gangs…to inspire hope and change… they are not privy to bringing all communities together, white, black, native, latinos, unions, police organizations, to get police accountability and make everyone be a part of what that looks like. That is czar work we are not talking about establishing something fresh and new we are talking about continuing the work that Not this Time has been doing and been successful at doing. I couldn’t go to the Mayor if there was no track record."

Taylor pitched the idea for "Conversations" to the mayor after he had arranged for gang members to meet with police to try and build bridges and get the gang members jobs working with SPD and the city. Taylor claims gang members were open to it and he spoke to former police chief O'Toole who promised they would make it happen but never got back to him. Shortly thereafter one of the gang members was killed. "It broke my f***ing heart! I told Mayor Durkan about it and she said I wont let that happen again, what do you need?"

Not This Time has been politically active as well, pushing the police reform bill I-940 which some have called "anti-cop," but Taylor cites the various police unions that worked with him to pass it. Taylor says he is not pro abolishing the police and wants reform instead. "You are encouraged to know the black community criminally not culturally understand the community you are policing because you want it bringing politicians bringing the mayor police chiefs from all over the country."

Taylor continued: "I'm not an abolitionist… I know psychopaths that are in prison and their a** needs to there. I'm not down with closing all the prison and shutting it all down… there needs to be reform. Abolish, absolutely not. Who are we gonna give the streets to? I'm not supporting the protest of agitation either. I am against that because I understand…thats going to get people killed around this country."

Taylor thinks that Not This Time and the Street Czar model could be successful across the country. He cited "Big u" a former gang member and his work with the city of Los Angeles as a model which he claims reduced gang violence by 80 percent by bringing gangs together. Taylor even pitched it to President Donald Trump "When the president called me I asked him to bring me to the White House because I want to talk to him specifically about creating street czars and funding it I’m not worried about who gets the praise for anything… to connect with people that really have reformed lives and it comes from grassroots from the streets."

But is a nation of immigrants responsible for how African Americans arrived in American and slavery?

"People who come into this country…they don't have the historical context of our people fighting for their rights and dying for their rights… the difference is… how they came and how we came… I would understand why people are so congratulatory to the government and they let us come to this country… and their gratefulness to the country, not so much with black people. Black people were forced here… black folks are saying you don't have our history here. We can't be congratulatory when our ancestors were free labor.

" Until you deal with the original sin… of what you did to us… we will always remind you. That's just like what they say about me, he was a human trafficker who raped women… with all my exposure… where all those women at? They should be every woman who participated in the lifestyle ever right on my heels." For critics who claim victims were threatened into silence, Taylor recounts his court case when the judge said there is no evidence of violence in this case.

Taylor recounted his appearance on the Sean Hannity show with Horace Anderson, father of Lorenzo Anderson the 19 year old who was killed by gang violence in the Seattle's occupied protest, called CHOP. According to Anderson and Taylor, Lorenzo was a special needs kid and just playing basketball because he followed groups of kids. "For this guy to shoot this kid stand over him and shoot them some more… this guy is a psychopath. Hannity's show called me… and I was so appreciative, Hannity appreciated it and didn't even take a commercial break." Taylor has been criticized by many on the left for even appearing on the show.

Taylor believes black lives matter, but does not believe in BLM the organization. He called out BLM removing language on their website calling for dismantling the model of the nuclear family. "In the 1960’s 23 percent of black families had single mothers, today it is 76 percent... how much more dismantling can black folks take? We cant afford not one more bit of decimation. I'm not a Marxist, so I can't support that. Even though we have issues in America I believe in the greatness of the American spirit, I believe in American exceptionalism as well…they have gotten a lot of flak from our community which is why they removed it…even though they removed it we know what their intents are now."

Taylor has no idea where the $100,000,000 is going to that the Mayor promised to organizations in the Capitol Hill occupied protest and says none of it is going to his organization.

Taylor also pushed back on critical race theory such as the new curriculum ideas that are being pushed into schools across the country "I'm not shocked that far left Seattle, that they would infiltrate schools… I'm hoping that balance can be brought back."


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