Students march in downtown Minneapolis to oppose human trafficking

| February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

Carly Hilgers, right, a junior at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, walks down Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis along with other marchers, including junior Megan Meckey, left, of Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Students from several local Catholic high schools braved temperatures in the single digits to march in downtown Minneapolis Feb. 1 to raise awareness of human trafficking and send a clear message that the criminal practice should not be tolerated.

With shouts of “Pimps and johns go home, leave our girls alone,” more than 100 students, teachers and parents led by local activist K.G. Wilson gathered at DeLaSalle High School and marched downtown on Hennepin Avenue. The peaceful march was organized by Peg Hodapp, vice president for Lasallian ministry at the school, and about 40 DeLaSalle students participated in a group that numbered more than 100. Other Catholic schools with students participating were Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria and Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield.

DeLaSalle junior Bianca Malone lives just one block from the school in an apartment building with her mother and siblings. Recently, she was walking on a nearby street and had an encounter that brought the issue home.

“This man approached me and said, ‘Do you want to make extra cash?'” said Malone, who quickly realized he was trying to lure her into prostitution, which often leads to trafficking. “I said, ‘Wow, this is real. This is scary.’ It spooked me, definitely.”

Terry Forliti, executive director of Breaking Free, a local organization that helps trafficking victims, also joined in the march, and students carried signs with Breaking Free’s message and website.

Hodapp was glad to offer the opportunity for the students to come out and get involved in the issue and do their part to bring awareness to both locals and visitors here for the Super Bowl. All students at the school got a lesson about human trafficking before the march took place.

“We just wanted to do a peaceful march. The kids got really excited about it,” she said. “I just was really impressed with the fact that people came out despite the cold and were willing to suffer a little bit in order to bring awareness to this cause.”

Local activist K.G. Wilson, right, leads chants on Hennepin Avenue. Joining in was Peg Hodapp, center, vice president for Lasallian ministry at DeLaSalle High School who organized the event. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

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Category: Local News