Activists raising awareness of human trafficking ahead of Derby
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The bright colors signature to the Kentucky Derby are a stark contrast to what organizations fighting human trafficking say the annual event can bring.
"Derby is a very crucial time because Louisville becomes a center of national attention and it also becomes a profit center for traffickers," said Redlight Project Executive Director Matt Clark.
Clark says members of the group will hit the streets, targeting certain areas and tracking down leads.
"You see a lot of ads on 'Backpage' right now and ads on Craigslist 'only in town for Derby,' 'only in town for the night," Clark said.
Like Redlight Project does throughout the year, volunteers will be looking for people who are forced to have sex against their will to get them help.
Click HERE for information on the Redlight Project.
"We want to be the person the alleged victim can trust," Clark said.
Kentucky Rescue and Restore says there were 160 human trafficking cases from 2008 to February of 2014 in the state. The organization says 59 percent of those victims were children.
"Trafficking, and especially trafficking in children is really prevalent, much more prevalent here than we even begin to know," said Free 2 Hope founder Amy Leenerts.
She hopes to spread that knowledge with others in the community. Leenerts says she'll be partnering with the HOPE campaign to distribute chap sticks around Derby time. They have critical and life saving information on the label -- the human trafficking hotline phone number.
"If people know there's a trafficking number and if people know it's happening around here, the chances of them calling if they see a victim is way higher," Leenerts said.
While the direct impact of these organizations' efforts are hard to track, they continue to move forward with their work.
"With some of this you'll never really know the outcome, but you just have to believe the information is going out and its making a difference," Leenerts said.
"We also told law enforcement about some of the things we found last year, and so I feel like that, in a small way, we did make a difference," Clark said.
If you'd like to learn more information about some of the organizations fighting human trafficking in our area, links to their websites are posted below:
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