“Airports are in a unique position to identify perpetrators and victims of sexual trafficking,” Roosevelt Council Jr., the general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, told more than 200 attendees at the World Chamber of Commerce Business and Humanitarian Summit held at the Georgia International Convention Center May 4.
In the wake of the growing awareness of Atlanta’s role as a hub for trafficking, Hartsfield-Jackson launched its “eyes and ears” campaign in January soliciting the more than 100 million passengers traveling through the airport annually to report their suspicions about the prevalence of the trade if they saw any untoward behavior. The FBI’s designation in 2015 of Atlanta as one of 14 U.S. cities with the highest rate of children used in prostitution underscored the scope of the problem.
Solange Warner, the founder and chair of the World Chamber, recognized Mr. Council, at the event with a “Global Hero Award” for the airport’s initiative.
Other recipients of the award for their efforts to stem trafficking included Allison Ashe, executive director of Covenant House, which provides shelter and services to children and youth who are homeless or at great risk and Jeff Shaw, executive director of Out of Darkness, Ministry of Atlanta Dreams, the anti-trafficking ministry of Atlanta Dream Center, Inc., which has the mission of reaching, rescuing and restoring all victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
Former Ambassador-at-large Mark Lagon, who headed the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, also received a “Global Hero Award” in abstentia.
Following a dramatic diatribe against the prevalence of sex trafficking in the state by Chief Judge Steven Teske of the Juvenile Court, Clayton Judicial Circuit, Andrew Young gave an address reviewing the positives and negatives of Atlanta’s emergence as a global hub.
For a Global Atlanta article about Mr. Young’s remarks at the event, click here.