Manchester Parks and Recreation hosted a Red Sand Program human trafficking awareness event at the complex Aug. 23.
Organizers wrote human trafficking statistics in chalk on the sidewalk before the event, then participants, ranging from law enforcement and firefighters to civic-minded guests, poured red-tinted sand into the crack running toward Rotary Park.
“This is an important health concern,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Bonnie Gamble. “it’s comfortable to think that… it doesn’t happen here, but it does. It’s in our state and happens in our county.”
Coffee County Health Department’s Kate McMinn explained that the program is a Department of Health initiative to raise awareness of those who have fallen through the cracks of human trafficking.
“There are so many and we know that our state is not immune,” she said.
Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin noted there are 30 miles of interstate that crosses the county and nearly 3,000 hotel rooms in the city.
“There is a potential for these types of cases to arise. We’re not an originator of these types of cases, but we may be a transient supplier to those that are,” he said.
Reporting suspected cases is not about getting the victim in trouble. It’s a matter of getting someone the help they need.
Rec. Center activities coordinator Amanda Morton said the simple act of pouring sand in a crack or posting a photo to social medial, but small actions build upon each other to make substantial change.
Human trafficking takes many forms, from sex worker to forced labor, but the exploitation of a person by whatever means can show similar red flags.
Physical red flags that may indicate a person in a victim of human trafficking can include a lack of health care, malnourishment, avoids eye contact, shows signs of restrain or torture, branded with a tattoo such as a man’s name, barcode or dollar sign, dresses same clothes regardless of weather or has injuries and is reluctant to explain them.
Mental health flags can appear as constant states of fear, paranoia or submissiveness, frequent movement from place to place, inability to speak for oneself or claims to be visiting but cannot say from where or how long they’re staying.
Having few personal possessions, fluctuating financial situations, no personal documents can be red flags.
An overall lack of control in one’s life is a big red flag. If a person is always accompanied by someone who controls their every move, has scripted speech, not allowed breaks at work or works long hours under unusual restrictions or has overly high security measures at work or at home (e.g. blacked out windows, bars over windows or barbed wire) he or she could be a victim of human trafficking.
The state suggest that if you see something suspicious, call local law enforcement or the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH (86484) or text “Help” or “Info” to 233733 for the National Human Trafficking Hotline.