Duluth police chief shines light on effort to end human traffickingChief Ramsay’s column will not appear this week, but he did forward information to the Budgeteer about Duluthians who are working to bring awareness of human trafficking in our city.
By: Gordon Ramsay, For the Budgeteer News
Chief Ramsay’s column will not appear this week, but he did forward information to the Budgeteer about Duluthians who are working to bring awareness of human trafficking in our city.
The chief is working collaboratively with a team of community leaders who have formed a Duluth trafficking task force to bring more attention to the trafficking of women and girls in Duluth.
Ramsay told the Budgeteer, “People always ask me, ‘Does that really happen here?’” His answer? “Yes, trafficking of women for sexual purposes does happen in Duluth.”
During the month of January, several nonprofits and agencies will focus on this issue. Ramsay encourages Budgeteer readers and book clubs to participate in a community book-read during January of “Girls Like Us,” by Rachel Lloyd.
Shunu Shrestha, Duluth trafficking task force coordinator, said in a prepared statement to the chief, “This book-read is part of a local effort to raise community awareness about trafficking of underage girls in the Twin Ports area.”
Book clubs may request a member of the Duluth Trafficking Task Force to lead their book discussions during January. Copies of “Girls Like Us” may be borrowed from the Duluth Public Library or purchased from Fitger’s Book Store and Barnes and Noble (look for their displays).
According to the Minnesota Women’s Foundation, “Many of us believe the prostitution (or sex trafficking) of girls for sex is something that happens only in distant nations. Or, if it does happen in our state, it only involves girls smuggled in from those faraway countries. Bottom line? The prostitution of girls is happening here, right now, in Minnesota — and it’s on the rise.”
In conjunction with the book-read of “Girls Like Us,” a panel followed by a community discussion will be held Tuesday, Jan. 29 to bring book club members and others together for an opportunity to learn about the trafficking of underage girls in the Twin Ports area, and what role the community can play to address and end this exploitation. This event will take place at Harbor City International School at 6:30 p.m.
During a phone interview, Shrestha mentioned two items for Budgeteer readers to take note of a proclamation by the mayor and billboards calling attention to the issue.
On Jan. 9 Mayor Don Ness will issue a proclamation to kick off a series of events during the month. A healing ceremony in honor of trafficking survivors will follow. “We would like the community to come and participate in that historical moment and commemorate the importance of the month itself,” Shrestha said.
Shrestha told the Budgeteer that in January readers should look out for two billboards bringing attention to human trafficking. One billboard will be in Duluth and one will be on I-35. “Billboards are huge and they convey a message more publicly than when we do a presentation,” Shrestha said.
Sponsors of the book-read and community discussion include the Duluth Trafficking Task Force, PAVSA, League of Women Voters Duluth, St. Louis County Attorney’s Office, Duluth Police Department, Duluth Public Library, UMD Women’s Resource and Action Center, Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (DAIP), and Lutheran Social Service.
Human Trafficking Awareness events
January: Book clubs encouraged to read “Girls Like Us” by Rachel Lloyd
Jan. 9, noon: Mayor Ness to issue a proclamation at Duluth City Hall
Jan. 11: Human Trafficking Awareness Day – Worldwide
Tues., Jan. 29, 6:30 p.m.: Panel discussion at Harbor City International School