By Mary Nordick
The Under-Told Stories Project hosted a panel discussion on Nov. 13, to bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking in Minnesota.
The Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership and SMU sponsor the Under-Told Stories Project, which is dedicated to raising awareness of under-told global issues, and is broadcasted by PBS News Hour.
The panel was moderated by Fred de Sam Lazaro, the director of the Under-Told Stories Project. Lazaro is a journalist who travels all over the world reporting on these issues.
The panelists talked about the rapid spreading of human trafficking cases in Minnesota. This is an issue that is widespread but not widely known. “Victims do not always come forward right away,” said panelist Michelle Garnett McKenzie, advocacy director at the Advocated for Human Rights.
“This year in Minnesota there have been 612 cases of human trafficking and 400 convicted,” said panelist Dennis Cusick, executive director for the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute (UMCPI).
The panelists talked about how Minnesota is one of the most affected states by human trafficking. Even closer to home than we think, Rochester is one of the major cities in Minnesota with high human trafficking numbers.
Panelist, and director of outreach for the Assisi Heights Spirituality in Rochester and member of the SE Minnesota Committee for Human Trafficking, Sister Marlys Jax is trying to help raise awareness in Rochester about this growing problem. “There are 300 homeless children in Rochester every night. Young adults can be recruited by these sex traffickers,” she said.
The panel talked about how there are more and more victims each day.
Junior Emily Trudeau said, “I had no idea that human trafficking was so widespread, the panel definitely brought this to my attention. I want to find a way to help raise awareness to this growing issue.”