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Operation: Code Red – Empowering Students to Abolish Slavery

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The horrible toll that human trafficking takes literally every day will be the subject of an Essex County College (ECC) student-organized three day, March 6-8, public forum on the topic.

      Stark figures from the United Nations’ Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking estimate that 2.5 million people world-wide are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time due to trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates that several hundred thousand United States minors are at risk of being sexually exploited, including those in New Jersey.

     The program, entitled Operation: Code Red – empowering students to abolish slavery, will be held at 2:30 p.m. each day at the main Newark campus. Tuesday and Thursday the free program will be held in Smith Hall and, on March 7, the 2008 film Taken will be shown in the Dasher Student Center.

     The forum, which will feature addresses by an official from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and New Jersey Congressman Donald M. Payne of Newark, was originally developed by ECC’s Math Club through its co-presidents Aicha Barry and Jason Gleason. It has since been embraced by numerous student clubs and organizations and the Student Life & Activities Office. 

     “Our main goal is to educate and empower the student body here at ECC and, in turn, inspire them to educate their peers to help combat this terrible crime against humanity,” said Gleason, a Verona resident. He added he has a friend associated with Project Stay Gold, a New Jersey student organization dedicated to abolish modern day slavery and who will make a presentation at the forum.  

     “People see stories of human trafficking on television or in the movies, but they have to realize that this horrible tragedy is real and out there,” said Barry, of Newark. She said the forum will also provide information on how to help prevent human trafficking.

·         On Tuesday, March 6, the College’s Short Films Club will begin the forum following the 2:30 introduction. Lynne Wilson-Bruchet, a victim assistance specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will make a presentation.  Project Stay Gold representatives will also make a presentation.

·         On Wednesday, March 7, the movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson, will be shown. Neeson portrays a retired CIA agent who has to rescue his kidnapped daughter before she is sold into prostitution.

·         On Thursday, March 8, U.S. Congressman Donald M. Payne is scheduled to talk at 2:45 p.m. A presentation by the College’s Christian Fellowship Club will follow.

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