Equipping Activists? How? What does that even mean?

This week I’d like to share some of the insight that helped form our mission statement:

Equipping anti-trafficking activists to unite their communities with one voice demanding, NO MORE… NOT HERE!

I mean how in the world can we be so bold as to suggest that a little ol’ community action group such as ours could somehow impact entire communities to rise up against human trafficking? P-U–L-E-A-S-E! However, if you listen to the larger national organizations like the Polaris Project (and we do!), they declare in no uncertain terms that the first step in combating human trafficking is empowering the community to understand and recognize the issue. And that is EXACTLY what our work is all about: educating others with accurate and current information.

Rodney Riggs, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, recently spoke at a human trafficking symposium in Detroit. He shared that the two ways people can help stop human trafficking is first, by becoming educated about it and then, to report suspicious activity. So as we move beyond being informed, how CAN concerned community members report what they suspect might be a possible trafficking situation WITHOUT putting themselves in harm’s way?

First, we need to understand that while sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude are also prevalent. The agriculture, restaurant and domestic service industries in our area are common avenues for forced servitude. Oftentimes it can be occurring right in front of our eyes. So here are some warning signs you can be looking for:

  • Someone inappropriately dressed
  • Appears submissive or fearful
  • Not able to speak for themselves, or answers sound rehearsed
  • No personal possessions, especially identity documents
  • Works excessively long or unusual hours

The list of red flag warnings is much more extensive, but should you think someone is involved in a human trafficking situation, you can immediately dial the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (888 3737 888). This hotline is run by the Polaris Project.

Please heed the caution to NEVER intervene directly: a call to the hotline keeps you safe while accomplishing the task of alerting law enforcement. And for those hesitant to make that call, Rodney Riggs offers some further advice, “Some people think, ‘Well, what if I call and I wasn’t right, or I misread a situation?’ There’s no backlash on the caller. There’s no harm in calling in and just reporting it.” Your call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline is COMPLETELY anonymous. They will take your information and then pass that info along to law enforcement in YOUR area.

So our mission to equip activists involves educating a growing number of community members to the reality that trafficking DOES exist right here in our midst, red flags they can be vigilant to detect, and if they suspect trafficking may be occurring, dialing the hotline. Our work can sometimes seem a painstaking process as we continue to persevere in gaining traction. But we hold fast to the belief that a tipping point CAN be reached whereby our community no longer tolerates ANY form of human trafficking: enough people are vested to keep their eyes alert and report any suspicious activity: that we are a united community with one voice demanding,

NO MORE… NOT HERE!

To close, I’m including a link to a YouTube video posted in 2014 that provides a peek into the National Human Trafficking Hotline offices. It is VERY informative and worth watching.

As always, please contact us if you know of a group interested in learning more about human trafficking. We accommodate all audiences and tailor our presentations to specifically address the information the group is seeking.

Thanks for reading and until next week… Ken out!

 

NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE

888 3737 888

How Polaris Project is using data to help victims of human trafficking

Published on January 21, 2014

FAREWELL TO A WARRIOR… JENNIFER KEMPTON

“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.”

― Pearl S. Buck

The unexpected death of Jennifer last week (Thursday, May 18) continues to have a rather devastating impact on me. We have lost a courageous warrior in the fight against human trafficking. These past several days have found me dwelling on her tragic loss with a swirling emotional mix of sadness, grief, and anger. But somehow through all of that, I have also been reinvigorated to carry on with our abolition work, finally attending to two dormant rebranding tasks that have awaited my attention: creating a social media presence on FaceBook for the North Central Ohio Justice Coalition and a weekly blog on WordPress (linked to the FB page). And yep… this is the FIRST of what will now become weekly posts!

Although only in existence a few short years, I had become enamored by Survivors INK and its creator, Jennifer Kempton, showing the YouTube video posted by the U.K. publication, The Guardian, to every group I could. What a brilliant and inspired way to assist survivors in their recovery (herself included)… replacing the tattooed reminder of their enslavement each time they looked into a mirror, with an aesthetically reimagined declaration of their freedom… oftentimes replacing the pimp’s name with their own.

tattoo-01.jpg

And then last Tuesday (May 16) it was SUCH a privilege to finally meet her and hear her present her story to the juniors and seniors at Perkins High School here in Sandusky. What a remarkable woman… I was SO incredibly impressed, both by her message, but also by her energy and passion. And those of our group who were present were excited to continue our conversation with her, planning for her return to Erie County in what we hoped would be the near future.

Hers was a passionate voice for justice. And that only compounds our profound sense of shock at her death. Her brokenness at the hands of the pimps and johns that abused her… her addiction, first as a coercion tool by her pimp, but then as a means to numb the pain of her circumstance… in the end snuffed out her burning desire to be instrumental in helping others currently trapped in the nightmare of sex trafficking.

So with a heart that is broken, I wish to express my farewell, “God bless you, Jennifer… our love for you will never diminish. Now be at peace in God, you, our warrior for justice. We will remain determined to continue on with your fight as best as we are able.”

Guardian

Guardian Docs

Survivors Ink: Erasing the marks of sex trafficking