Groups brace for human trafficking during Derby activities - News, Weather & Sports

Groups brace for human trafficking during Derby activities

Matt Clark Matt Clark
Amy Leenerts Amy Leenerts

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - While the city is gearing up for Derby week, some local organizations are mobilizing to combat human trafficking during the festivities. Officials from the local groups aimed at stopping human trafficking say that as visitors are coming in from all over the country for the Kentucky Derby, there are also men and women among them being brought in from different cities to be forced into sexual acts.  

Matt Clark is founder of The RedLight Project. The project documents human trafficking cases around the country and relays that information to police. According to Clark, human trafficking is not just a problem in third-world countries, it's happening right here in Louisville.  

Clark said the victims are young men and women, missing kids, and runaways who are being held against their will and forced to perform sexual acts because of fear and intimidation. The RedLight Project has launched an initiative called Operation Red Dawn to target human trafficking surrounding Derby. 

Another group, S.O.A.P., Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution, is also working to combat the growing problem by distributing bars of soap with contact information to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. 8,000 bars were distributed to more than 40 area hotels by volunteers Sunday. The bars ask the question "Have you witnessed young girls being prostituted?" One volunteer says just one bar can help.  

"It could be really impactful or it could be just be one girl," said Amy Leenerts, "it doesn't matter but the point is getting people informed of what's going on so that they can't turn their face away from it anymore and if it saves just one girl, it's worth it."

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