LINCOLN – As hard as it may be to believe, people are being illegally trafficked in Nebraska right now. People are being bought and sold – treated as property, trucked like livestock, forced against their will to work for those who think they own them – as cleaning people, farm hands, and most disturbingly – sex workers. Victims of human trafficking can be any gender, any race. This modern-day slavery is illegal, yet it continues to thrive in the shadows.
Governor Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Transportation have worked to bring a new, important message of help and hope to one popular trafficking route: the Nebraska I-80 corridor. Every rest area across this section of Interstate now displays a poster targeted at reaching both victims of human trafficking, and those who suspect human trafficking.
The “When You Can’t Walk Away” message is inspired by the Blue Campaign, developed through the Department of Homeland Security. The black and white poster with bold red lettering depicts a lone person walking down an alley away from view. The message reads two ways: when a person is being coerced and cannot walk away from their perpetrator and when a bystander sees something, and they cannot walk away without reporting.
The poster provides the National Human Trafficking Hotline number: 1-888-373-7888, which is available to receive calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The hotline funnels calls to the in-state network established by the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force (NHTTF). Help is available in English, Spanish, and more than 200 additional languages through an on-call interpreter.
It was only in the last decade that many began to understand the scope of this particular crime. And now through partnerships across our state, Nebraska has experienced considerable momentum in working to stop trafficking. We have clearer, tougher laws against human trafficking and several new laws to protect the victims/survivors.
The Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force has trained over 3,000 law enforcement and service providers. NHTTF helps law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers, and community partners breathe life into these laws.
Posters are available to be displayed in churches, schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, or place of business – consider displaying this poster in public restrooms, parks facilities, on public bulletin boards, and anywhere else you have permission to spread the message that human trafficking is not welcome in Nebraska – and that help is waiting for the victims.