The cracks in the sidewalks along Clinton's riverfront are streaked with red sand this summer in an effort to raise awareness about human trafficking. It is part of a participatory art installation called the Red Sand Project which began in 2014 and has appeared in all 50 states and over 70 countries around the world.
Locally, the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee decided to bring the project to the area and a group of volunteers gathered to pour packets of red sand into the sidewalk cracks up and down the dike. Signs explaining the tragedy of human trafficking were placed along the sidewalk. Among those participating in the project were Sisters Kathleen Holland, Marilyn Shea, Jeanne D'Arc Untz, and Marjorie Wisor along with Canticle Archivist Lanie Lass and other members of the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. Community Volunteers included members of the Ebony Dance troupe and Job's Daughters.
Lori Freudenberg, Outreach Director for the Franciscan Peace Center and coordinator of the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee said that filling the cracks with sand signifies that many victims of human trafficking, or sex trafficking, go unnoticed.
"The Red Sand Project demonstrates how a lot of victims of human trafficking fall through the cracks and end up in situations of exploitation and modern-day slavery," Freudenberg said. "So by taking red sand and filling the sidewalk cracks, we're not only bringing attention and awareness to the issue, but we're also symbolizing that we need to do something to ensure men, women and children don't fall through the cracks."
Today, 40.3 million people live as slaves around the world. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world, generating about $32 billion each year.
Many human trafficking victims are children. According to a study of U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens. The average age that U.S. citizens are first used for commercial sex is 12-14.
The Clinton County Anti-Human Trafficking Committee meets monthly at 9:00 AM on the second Tuesday of the month at The Canticle - home of the Sisters of St. Francis, 841 Thirteenth Avenue North in Clinton. All are welcome to participate. Businesses and organizations interested in setting up training are invited to Lori Freudenberg at 563-242-7611.
The Franciscan Peace Center was established by the Sisters of St. Francis as means for integrating Franciscan spirituality with the mission of promoting active nonviolence and peacemaking, as well as advocating for social justice issues and care for the Earth. Most recently, the Center has focused on immigration reform, human trafficking, abolition of the death penalty, domestic violence and sexual assault, poverty, environmental concerns, and active nonviolence. More information is available at www.ClintonFranciscans.com.
Photo: Amoni Green volunteered to pour sand into sidewalk cracks along with fellow members of the Ebony Dance Troop and other community volunteers.