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Advocates warn about human trafficking during Derby season

There are some groups warning that the Kentucky Derby does not only bring race fans and money to the Bluegrass State, but also human trafficking.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There are some groups warning that the Kentucky Derby does not only bring race fans and money to the Bluegrass State, but also human trafficking.

“Derby is the second biggest event for human trafficking in our country,” Pam Darnall with the Family and Children’s Center said.

She said those being trafficked are adults and children, and she urges people to be on the lookout for warning signs.

“For both children and adults, if they appear malnourished, signs of maybe physical injuries or abuse, avoiding eye contract or avoiding social interaction with others,” she explained. “Derby is typically a fun, enjoyable week. It’s a large economic driver of our community. We just have to be aware that while all the positives are happening, there are these negatives that are hurting kids and hurting adults in our community.”

The Junior League of Louisville is aiming to reach out directly to victims. They’ve teamed up with the SOAP Project to put a stop to human trafficking. On Saturday, volunteers will label bars of soap and makeup wipes with information about where to get help before giving them to 150 hotels, motels, and restaurants in the area.

“Because a lot of times when people are trafficked, the only time that they’re alone is when they’re in the restroom. So it gives them a way and information on how to ask for help,” Michelle Black White said.

Theresa Flores, a sex trafficking survivor and activist, will also speak to volunteers. She will tell her story and discuss how to recognize signs of human trafficking.

People can sign up to volunteer with the Junior League here. To report human trafficking, click here.

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