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PeaceFest organizers Thursday announced that the 2015 event will benefit the countywide human trafficking task force.
The 2015 event will run from 12 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Quarry Park, 3800 Northwestern Avenue. Admission is free, and there will be food to purchase, kids activities, a DJ, a vendor craft fair, basket raffle and more.
The money generated globally by human trafficking is second only to the drug trade, and is becoming more prevalent here in Racine County.
Two girls – ages 13 and 16 – were recently rescued from human trafficking after several months of investigation, and Racine police Officer Neal Lofy told WTMJ 4 News that Racine is considered an ideal location for trafficking because of the easy access to I-94 and its location between Chicago and Milwaukee.
The majority of human trafficking victims are teen girls, and runaways are especially easy targets.
Police departments from across the county participate in the human trafficking task force, but their efforts to rescue victims and arrest their traffickers have largely gone on unnoticed. Because the task force doesn’t receive any line-item funding and the problem impacts every community in Racine County, PeaceFest organizers want 2015 proceeds earmarked for task force support.
“We know from speaking with law enforcement and community organizations that human trafficking is a huge problem in Racine County,” said Beth David, chief organizer and founder of We Are Racine/Racine Uncovered. “This is a crime that impacts us all because the victims are among us, we just don’t see them.”
Local contributing agencies include:
- Racine Police Department
- Mount Pleasant Police Department
- Caledonia Police Department
- Sturtevant Police Department
- Racine County Sheriff’s Department
- Waterford Police Department
- Racine County District Attorney’s Office
- Wisconsin Department of Corrections
PeaceFest 2014 came together in just six weeks when David and a group of volunteers decided to do more to help build connections between the community and local law enforcement. That first event raised over $7,000 for the Racine Police Department’s COP (Community Oriented Policing) program, and David is hopeful the 2015 event will meet and/or exceed that benchmark.
Officers from throughout the county are expected to participate again this year.