The “Storm of the Decade” slammed into Northern California recently. Pounding rain melted the snow-pack and rivers crested, sweeping away recent memories of drought. Trees toppled and mud married rock, sliding across roads and causing power outages that left thousands in the dark. Through it all – one light remains on – and it shines forth from Lassen County.
“Some things are too important to cancel,” said Dawn Hershberger, community activist and recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Service Medal, as she continues her work to increase awareness and take a stand against Human Trafficking. “The Dedication of the Proclamation will proceed. If we can save just one child from a life of slavery, it is worth the effort.”
And that is exactly what Human Trafficking is, modern day slavery with America leading the way in worldwide consumption. Slaves are mostly female, average age 11, bought on the global market for about $90. dollars and then trafficked to other countries where they are sold as sex slaves. Trafficking is the third most lucrative of the major crimes, behind sales of illegal drugs and guns. Why? Whereas guns and drugs are sold for a one-time profit, children are frequently sold 20-30 times a day. A single $360. investment can return between two to three million dollars a year.
As an author whose suspense novels include acts of domestic violence, sexual assault, kidnapping and trafficking, I had planned to speak at the Lassen County Proclamation before the storm hit. Deterred from travel due to the elements, I decided to let the hot and sexy ATF Agent in my latest novel, Ritual Abuse, sum up a few of the facts in my stead:
Travis pushed his sunglasses higher on his nose. “About ten billion dollars a year … just in the United States. That’s about fifty thousand kids coming into the US a year … in addition to the three hundred thousand that are already here.”
The gum swelled in my throat. “Oh my God,” I gasped. “How can that be? In America … of all places.” I continued to mull it over with a growing sense of righteous anger.
“Yes America, and all across the world,” said Travis. “California, to its great shame, includes three of the top five highest trafficking cities in America.”
“The port cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and beautiful San Diego.” Travis reached for the last stick of gum still clutched in my hand and added, “In case you’re wondering, the other two cities are New York and Texas ….”
We drove on in silence.
Rain or shine, January 11, 2017, Lassen County will forge ahead and make an official Proclamation to take a stand against Human Trafficking. Guest speakers will include District Attorney Stacey Montgomery and Dawn Hershberger. The community is encouraged to attend and take an active role the fight against trafficking. Knowledge is power and everyone can get involved at some level. Here are
FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO:
- Attend the community event and then share the information professionally and personally.
- Volunteer at the next triathlon; either at the event or distributing some fliers.
- Hold your elected officials accountable. “NOT IN MY CITY” should be a call to action, not a statement of denial.
- Buy Dawn Hershberger a gas card or restaurant gift card so she can continue her work. Few people know that Dawn pays for everything out of her own pocket; gas, food, lodging and materials.
- Host a workshop for your department, organization or club to increase awareness and become a part of the solution.
My best wishes and highest regard go out to Lassen County and the people who care and dare to make a difference.
Donations can be made:
C/O Morningtide Publishing
PO Box 4262 Yankee Hill, CA 95965