The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts next week. While tourists will be coming in from all over the country to visit the state, a local organization says human traffickers will also be dropping by. Call To Freedom is organizing “ambassador teams” to go out and spread the word about trafficking.
Visitors are already rolling into the state on Interstates 29 and 90 for the Sturgis Rally.
“There are wonderful people coming into our state. They’re supporting our state. We want that. Tourism is something we want but along with tourism, you will get those who will prey upon innocence,” Volunteer Chair of the Ambassador Team for Call To Freedom Denise Austad said.
She’s known several victims of trafficking and hopes putting up posters in hotels, restaurants, gas stations and businesses will help prevent future tragedies.
“The headline, ‘Can You See Her?’ These are faces that sometimes you are not going to readily identify,” Austad said.
Ambassador Grant Washnok has been calling around Sioux Falls to see who’d like a poster. More than 500 have been ordered from the “Blue Campaign” and delivered to east river locations.
“To get out to the public so people know about this. It is around here. Just to get education out there and awareness,” Washnok said.
On top of two phone numbers on the posters, Washnok is also handing out cards with tips on how to spot a victim.
“Some of the items are if the victim is being coached. They don’t know what state they’re in. They don’t have money themselves are some examples,” Washnok said.
It’s all in an effort to stop trafficking. Austad says victims are left broken after the abuse.
“All these wonderful things that we think about that they should experience in school, in childhood, in friendship, going to games. They lose that,” Austad said.
And she wants to stop it before it takes place.
Many Bikers will pass through Sioux Falls on their way to Sturgis. Call To Freedom is also putting up posters in Sioux City, Watertown, Worthington, Mitchell and Chamberlain.