Stop Traffic and Not For Sale fight slavery in Columbia

Stop Traffic and Not For Sale Missouri speak out about human trafficking.

Amy Oslica / Graphic Designer

This week, MU students are trying to raise awareness about human trafficking. Student group Stop Traffic paired up with Not For Sale Missouri to host "Generation J: Concert to End Slavery" on Sunday night. Events will continue through the week.

Members of both Stop Traffic and Not For Sale are hoping that Human Trafficking Awareness Week inspires people to take the next step to helping those who have been forced into slavery.

"The biggest issue is that people don't think that human trafficking happens in places like Columbia because it is so hidden," Stop Traffic co-founder Jennifer Kimball said.

Tickets were sold in advance and at the door for the performance to raise money for a safe house in Lima, Peru, called the Victoria House. The shelter in Peru is being constructed to help trafficked survivors.

The Shelter in Columbia also helps trafficked victims.

"If we find some of the mail-order brides that get brought to Columbia we try and get them to California where there is an organization that helps them get back to their original countries," said Kelley Lucero, a representative from The Shelter. Lucero will speak tonight.

The Columbia Police Department also trained all of its officers about human trafficking last January.

CPD officer Tim Thomason said any traffic victims who are found in Columbia will most likely be related to the sex or labor industries.

"In the past 14 years I can't think of a case that dealt with human trafficking," Thomason said. "But there is a chance that we didn't recognize it."

The lead singer of the Caleb Rowden Band, who was one of the performers, got involved with Not For Sale through his church. The pastor of the church, John Battaglia, is the Missouri state director of Not For Sale.

Battaglia said he met Not For Sale founder David Batstone in the airport in Atlanta and has been helping ever since.

The concert was meant to inspire and educate people in hopes of them joining the abolitionist movement.

In the upcoming week there will also be other events dealing with human trafficking awareness. Monday night, Batstone hosted a workshop about how to become a backyard abolitionist. On Thursday there will be a town hall meeting with multiple speakers.

To conclude the week, artists and musicians will come together to fight slavery at Abolition in the Park.

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