As the sun set amidst a light rain, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, along with hundreds of residents, community activists, members of church organizations, and elected officials marched along Long Beach Blvd. from Compton to Lynwood to garner attention for, and speak out against child sex trafficking.
Recognizing the plight of many children, who are often forced to walk those streets, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted, “Every day, children as young as 12 are bought and sold by adult men. We will shine a light on this despicable behavior. You, who come here days, nights, weekends to buy these girls, we see you. And we will bring changes throughout Los Angeles County and the state of California.”
A $32 billion dollar business, human sex trafficking impacts over 100,000 children throughout the U.S., and nearly 3,000 in Los Angeles. D’Lita Miller, a human trafficking survivor, who was kidnapped and raped at age 11, shared her story with the marchers, stating, “As a child, I was bought and sold here on these streets.” Currently, a child advocate, Miller who works with “Saving Innocence,” encouraged the crowd to treat the young women with love and compassion. Another survivor, Maria Suarez, who at age 15 was sold and bought for $200 and who suffered cruel beatings and sexual exploitation, also works on behalf of victims and survivors with the National Council of Jewish Women.
The galvanizing march brought diverse communities and stakeholders together on behalf of our most treasured gift—our children. The march was attended by State Senator Holly Mitchell, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, attorney and social justice advocate Sandra Fluke, and other local officials as well as community residents.