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Maryland Coalition Against Pornography: No More Porn

Maryland- A nondescript building just off Route 1 in Beltsville has become the focus of efforts by neighbors and others to enforce local laws limiting the operations of adult-oriented businesses.

Holding placards that say “No More Porn,” an activist group protested on a recent weekend in front of an adult video and bookstore that it says is violating Prince George’s County zoning rules.

The Maryland Coalition Against Pornography held the rally Oct. 25 at the Wholesale Lingerie & Gift Center in Beltsville, which operates in a building near homes and a church.

The county’s zoning rules say that an adult bookstore must be at least 1,000 feet away from homes, schools, libraries, parks, recreational facilities, day-care centers or churches. Hours of operation are limited to 9 a.m. to midnight, according to the code.

The protesters say Wholesale Lingerie, which has been operating since 1994, is breaking both rules. They want the county to make it operate within the bounds of the law.

“I believe the county is not protecting the citizens from the harm that pornography does,” said Arthur McKnew, a member of the coalition. “The county is not enforcing existing laws.”

“We’ve had several complaints from neighbors,” said a protester from New Carrollton, who asked that her name not be published because of privacy concerns. “They are open every day. Sundays. Christmas. Can you imagine?

“Montgomery County doesn’t have this,” she said.

Peggy Cairns, president of the coalition, said that members of her group have met with County Council member Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel) and sent letters to State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) and County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), seeking to curb Wholesale Lingerie’s activities.

They decided to picket as a last resort, planning their protest to coincide with the national Pornography Awareness Week, which was last week. Protesters targeted Wholesale Lingerie because they said it — unlike the other two adult stores in the area — is violating the hours of operations requirements.

“The people who live in this neighborhood deserve some peace,” McKnew said. “We need the public to get behind us to nudge the politicians.”

Calls made to Wholesale Lingerie were not returned. One person who answered the phone at the business refused to be identified but said of the protest, “Don’t they know this stuff just increases our business?”

Complaints about adult stores in Prince George’s date to the 1970s, when there were as many as 12 such stores in the county.

Prince George’s has a history of trying to limit or shut down adult stores, including several battles defending the constitutionality of its ordinances.

Some county residents said they are frustrated by the Beltsville store’s apparent disregard of the law.

“It’s not a lingerie place. It’s a total adult place with quite a few booths,” the protester from New Carrollton said.

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