Walk to raise awareness of human trafficking


Staff Writer

Friday, October 13, 2017

A local organization is set to hold an event to bring awareness to human and labor trafficking.

S.A.F.E., a faith-based ministry that is an outreach of Peacemakers Family Center in Rocky Mount, will sponsor “The Walk for Freedom” at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Golden East Crossing mall. The walk is to provide people information about the ongoing issue of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is known as forcing others to commit crimes such as prostitution and theft or performing labor in horrible conditions, all for the profit of the trafficker.

Trafficking occurs after a period of intentional deception known as grooming, where unsuspecting potential victims of trafficking are targeted and romanced, shown affection and care or promised situations of employment that seem ideal for them. Once the victims buy into the lie, traffickers have them trapped.

S.A.F.E. stands for Support Advocate Fight Educate and is a community response to human trafficking for Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties. It was founded three years ago by Kenny Sumner after he organized a conference through Peacemakers that enlightened him about human trafficking. 

The mission of S.A.F.E. is to reach as many people as possible with the purpose to eradicate human trafficking by outreach, education and support, Sumner said. He added the organization goes around the area to talk about the issue with different churches and other community organizations.

Reports said North Carolina ranks No. 8 in the United States for cases of human trafficking.

“It has become prevalent in our area and throughout the rest of the country,” Sumner said. “It’s an epidemic with the rise of opioid consumption and gang life. Human trafficking is modern day slavery and is the number one way of how gangs get money. They get these young girls addicted to drugs and force them into prostitution. It’s just despicable.”

Sumner said before the walk begins there will be guest speakers providing statistical information about human trafficking, including Kiricka Yarborough-Smith, human trafficking consultant for N.C. Council For Women, and Kennedy Miller of A21, which is working with S.A.F.E. on the event.

The A21 Campaign, commonly referred to as A21, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works to fight human trafficking. People looking to report incidents of human trafficking can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.