New campaign urges citizens to “Learn,” “Engage,” “Share”
September 25, 2013 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker kicked off “Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” on the steps of City Hall yesterday, joined by Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, government officials, civic leaders and community stakeholders. The purpose of the campaign is to inform citizens about the crime of human trafficking and encourage them to report suspicious situations to authorities. The citywide event featured simultaneous community gatherings at 24 locations throughout Houston, including City Hall, The Galleria and designated consulates’ offices, community centers and nonprofit agencies.
“A year ago, I created a Human Trafficking Task Force composed of law enforcement and community experts to help us develop a strategic plan to address the problem of human trafficking in Houston,” said Mayor Parker. “Today we are launching a major component of that plan. Our goals are simple—to inform citizens about this crime, urge them to be vigilant and report suspicious situations to authorities and put an end to human trafficking in our city.”
The main event at City Hall featured comments by the mayor, police chief, sheriff, other officials and a survivor of human trafficking. The program culminated at dusk with a candlelight ceremony and the lighting of City Hall in a hue of blue, symbolizing of the community’s commitment to end human trafficking. HTV’s live broadcast of the program was screened at the community sites. Comcast’s Houston’s Voice hosted a live stream of the program and live chats on the issue via social media. Citizens attending the events received information on how they can help address the crime of human trafficking in their own communities. Houston police officers and county sheriff deputies were on hand to answer questions from participants.
“Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” is a long-range campaign, with a series of community engagement initiatives planned for the near future. The campaign’s central message focuses on “Learn,” Engage” and “Share” as three simple actions that citizens can take to recognize and report suspected human trafficking to authorities.
About Human Trafficking
Known as “modern day slavery,” human trafficking is defined as the buying and selling of people for the purpose of forced, defrauded or coerced services, labor or sex. The crime includes the victimization of adults and children. Houston is considered a hub for human trafficking, resulting from factors such as the city’s close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, its huge international port, the cross-country Interstate 10 corridor that traverses the metropolis and the region’s large immigrant population and migrant labor force. In 2012, 9.2 percent of all calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline originated in Texas, comprising the second highest in the country. A majority of those calls originated in Houston.
“Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” is an initiative of the Office of International Communities (OIC), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods (DON), sponsored in partnership with the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO). The campaign is based on research and recommendations by the Mayor’s Human Trafficking Task Force, composed of law enforcement representatives, community stakeholders and experts on the issue.
For campaign details and event sites, visit www.shinealighthouston.org or call OIC at 832.393.1010. For sponsor information, access DON and OIC at www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods, HPD at www.houstonpolice.org and HCSO at www.harriscountyso.org. For HTV, log on to www.houstontx.gov/htv. To access Houston’s Voice, go to www.houstonsvoice.com.