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Human trafficking is focus of events

Human trafficking is a reality here in Minnesota. In fact, according to the FBI, Minneapolis ranks 13th in the nation for high incidence for the sex trafficking of minors.

The group Trafficking Justice wants to help end modern-day slavery. One step toward that goal is educating people about the practice.

Trafficking Justice will host Freedom Weekend March 7-9. Organizer Ashley Stevens said the goal of the weekend is educate people about human trafficking and equip them with the tools to stop it.

“We hope it will be a really enlightening weekend,” said Stevens.

The Freedom Forum will be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 8 at Berean Baptist Church in Burnsville. Stevens said attendees will learn the latest on human trafficking, how to protect their families and how to make a difference. Speakers will include Christopher Oelkers, Homeland Security Investigations; Daniel Walker, NVader, a New Zealand-based anti-trafficking group; Sabina Burton, an instructor and researcher on human trafficking; and Dr. William Struthers of Guilty Pleasure, an organization that educates about the harmful effects of pornography.

A youth event will be held in conjunction. Youth between the ages of 12 and 19 can learn about tactics used against teens in suburban schools, how to identify human trafficking recruitment and how to protect themselves and their friends. Speakers will include Mary Hoyt, Trafficking Justice Educator; and Katie Trimbo of Damsels in Defense.

March 9 is Freedom Sunday. The campaign encourages churches to unite worldwide for the end of modern slavery. Community of Hope Church in Rosemount will participate in the campaign. Pastor Per Neilson will speak about human trafficking at both the 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services.

The weekend will end with a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. at Community of Hope, 14401 Biscayne Ave. W.

“We will be praying against slavery in our world,” said Stevens.

All of the events are free and open to the public. To learn more about Freedom Weekend or to register visit

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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