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Billboard campaign to raise awareness of sex trafficking


City and county officials this week joined billboard company Clear Channel Outdoors and anti-human trafficking groups to announce an effort to raise awareness in Los Angeles about modern-day slavery, including promoting a hotline for victims and the public.

Billboards around the region will feature a 24-hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center run by Polaris, an international group fighting trafficking. Victims or members of the community can report human trafficking or suspicious activity by calling (888) 373-7888 or texting to BeFree (233733).

The ads will run in English and Spanish on dozens of digital and traditional billboards, and bus shelter sign space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.

Polaris has launched similar campaigns with Clear Channel in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York and Seattle.

“Victims of human trafficking need to know there is help available for them when they are ready to reach out and be connected to services across the country, including here in Los Angeles,” Polaris CEO Bradley Myles said.

The campaign is part of the Polaris’s efforts “to empower victims to rebuild their lives,” he said.

Kay Buck, who heads the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, said they are partnering with Clear Channel and Polaris to help victims of human trafficking.

“Knowing there is a safe place to go in the community is an important first step for a human trafficking survivor,” Buck said. “Survivors can trust that when they reach out for help, CAST will be there with a safe home, help with legal proceedings, life skills and job opportunities.”

“We are building important partnerships that are committed to bringing survivors to a place where they are no longer enslaved, but can now contribute to the rich diversity and social fabric of Los Angeles,” she said.

Los Angeles County is considered a “hub” for human-trafficking, part of a growing criminal industry that generates $150 billion a year globally, the advocacy groups said.

“Modern slavery is the 20.9 million people worldwide estimated to be victims of sex and labor trafficking, and we must do what’s in our power to restore their freedom,” said actor and former NFL player Terry Crews, who serves as Polaris’ ambassador.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe hailed the collaboration between Polaris, CAST and Clear Channel, thanking them for “bringing this issue out of the dark with the bold public awareness campaign announced today.”

“The fight against human trafficking is an ongoing struggle, and public awareness is essential to winning that fight,” Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said. “I am grateful for the leadership of CAST, Polaris and Clear Channel Outdoor. They are truly making an important difference.”