South Florida commuters will see more human trafficking awareness signs on their commute leading up to the 2020 Super Bowl.
Data gathered in 2018 by the National Human Trafficking Hotline already ranks Florida as having the 3rd highest number of human trafficking cases nationwide. And, as the city of Miami Gardens prepares to host an event that will bring in tens of thousands of extra football fans to South Florida, authorities are worried that the population boost during the Super Bowl will make it easier for predators and traffickers to slip through the cracks.
That's why state officials and local non-profits have partnered to launch a human trafficking awareness campaign in different spots in South Florida.
The first sign of the ‘Stop Sex Trafficking’ campaign was unveiled Wednesday at the Knight Center Metromover Station in Miami. Other posters are being plastered across South Florida bus shelters, train cars and billboards by the non-profit managing the campaign, the Women’s Fund Miami-Dade.
The Women's Fund Executive Director, Kathy Andersen, said that the campaign will roll out from Palm Beach all the way down to Monroe County.
“This campaign can be as big as we get funding for,” Andersen said. “We’d like to see it raise a $1.5 million, from corporations, from our local foundations and beyond, because that will give this campaign the ability to be everywhere in the community.”
The initiative received initial funding from the National Football League but officials from the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee and the Women’s Fund Miami-Dade have refused to disclose exactly how large of a check the NFL has written — or how far along the non-profit is to achieving their goal.
Former Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez, now the Executive Director of the Super Bowl Host Committee, said the signs will be plastered across South Florida bus shelters and train cars. The campaign will also give commuters a trafficking hotline number — 305-FIX-STOP.
Anyone can call and report possible trafficking crimes and be connected with local resources.
“We really want the public to be our eyes and ears,” Martinez said.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of messaging leading up to the Super Bowl, a lot of education in the hospitality industry, in our transportation industry. So when people recognize that something may not be right, that they call,” he said.
Women’s Fund Miami-Dade Board Member DeAnne Connolly Graham said the launch was held in the Metromover station because public transportation is an avenue for sex traffickers.
“67 percent of women that are trafficked are local girls, 40 percent are minors, so it’s really important for people to know that the statistics are our own girls, in our own neighborhoods,” Connolly Graham said.
Other committed partners in the campaign include Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and over 300 local participating community organizations.