WUFT News

‘Justice Week’ brings awareness to human trafficking

By on February 4th, 2013

Samantha Shavell / WUFT

Melisha Keyes writes down what he believes to be the meaning of freedom at the Plaza of the Americas Monday.

Melisha Keyes stood in front of a brown and orange backdrop Monday and held a sign that read “to be unashamed.”

The sign represented his idea of freedom.

Keyes was participating in Justice Week, an event designed to raise awareness about domestic and international human trafficking.

Fight Injustice Against Human Trafficking, or FIGHT, and Gators for Free the Slaves are co-hosting the week of events, which began Monday at the Plaza of the Americas. There are five other events this week.

Human trafficking is defined as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Prostitution and farming are the most popular forms of human trafficking, said Christopher Barton, the president of Gators for Free the Slaves.

“It’s straight up slavery,” Barton said. “It’s not working for little.”

Samantha Shavell / WUFT

Melisha Keyes stands in Plaza of the Americas Monday holding up a sign explaining what freedom means to him. He is participating in Justice Week in Gainesville.

Older men may use the “boyfriend mentality” to lure young women into human trafficking, said FIGHT volunteer Joyce Liu.

A man might wine and dine a young woman, Liu said, and by the time she is asked to prostitute herself, she is already brainwashed.

The Gainesville Child Advocacy Center is an organization that focuses on human trafficking victims.

Sherry Kitchens, the president and CEO of the center, will speak at the Price of Sex Symposium on Thursday. She said the Safe Harbor Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, helps child victims.

“They can be treated as victims rather than criminals,” Kitchens said.

Numbers and statistics don’t represent the problem, she said.

In 2011, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center received 19,427 calls. People in Florida made more than 800 of those calls.

Fourteen calls came from Gainesville, according to the center.

Kitchens said human trafficking is a crime traffickers can hide well.

“They are using people as commodities,” she said.

Eighty percent of human trafficking victims are women and children because they are the most vulnerable, Kitchens said. Runaway children are sometimes approached by someone working for commercial human trafficking within 48 hours, she said.

Keyes said he wants people to be aware the situation exists.

“I stand for what I believe in,” he said, “and fight for what I love.”

Justice Week events:

Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a photo booth called “A Picture of Freedom” will be open to the public on the Plaza of the Americas.

Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the same event will be hosted in the Santa Fe College E Breezeway.

Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Hippodrome State Theatre will have a “Sex + Money” documentary screening.  Visitors must RSVP to the event.

Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the documentary will also be screened at Santa Fe College in WA104.  The Human Trafficking Symposium: The Price of Sex will take place 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reitz Union Rion Ballroom.

Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Grace at Fort Clarke United Methodist Church is hosting a free night of music and art expression called “Restore Hearts.”

Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.,  the Run Toward Justice 5K will be held at the Haile Plantation Village Center.


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.15.32 PM

Gainesville Homeless Shelters Prepare for Cold Weekend

Expecting a weekend cold snap, Gainesville homeless shelters like St. Francis House and Grace Marketplace are asking for donations to prepare for a surge of homeless people looking to stay warm.


A crowded audience of Island Field residents and trail supporters filled the Jack Durrance Auditorium at the Alachua County Administration building on Tuesday night. The County Commission voted on how to address complaints regarding use of the Barr Hammock trail.

County Commission Votes To Keep Barr Hammock Trail Open

The Alachua County Commission voted Tuesday to keep the Levy Loop Trail at the Barr Hammock Levy Prairie Preserve open year-round. Residents of Island Field, a neighborhood that borders the trail, raised concerns over noise and privacy earlier this year.


Pumpkins, whose native growing climate is in a cool and dry area, are displayed and sold at the Trinity United Methodist Church pumpkin patch. The patch, located at 4000 NW 53rd Ave., in Gainesville, is open until Oct. 30.

Imported Pumpkins Help Bring Fall Season To Florida

More than 40,000 pounds of the brightly-colored gourds arrived on a semi-truck Sept. 28 just in time for this year’s pumpkin patch. Before filling the small hay-covered courtyard at Gainesville’s Trinity United Methodist Church, the pumpkins travel 1,807 miles through [...]


Punk music festival Fest is now permitted to sell alcohol on Bo Diddley Plaza this weekend after the city of Gainesville broadened its alcohol ordinance. Fest will be held from Friday to Sunday.

Fest Expands Into Bo Diddley Plaza After Ordinance Changes

Punk music festival Fest will have bands perform for the first time at Bo Diddley Community Plaza Halloween weekend. The use of the venue comes with ordinance changes Fest organizers have been waiting three years for.


Martin Luther King III poses for photos with Eastside High School's Gospel Choir before addressing the crowd of voters at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. “My father used to say that a voteless people is a powerless people,” he said. “One of the most important steps we can take is the step to the ballot box.”

Residents Encouraged To Vote Early At ‘Empowerment Sunday’

Voters were encouraged to take full advantage of early voting on Sunday at Gainesville’s Empowerment Sunday organized by the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County. Martin Luther King III attended.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments