Updated: Demonstrators gathered in front of Tulsa’s City Hall Saturday August 22 to protest child trafficking.
The rally began just before 6 p.m. and carried on well into the evening. The beginning small group of about 50 people grew more than twice in size as it migrated a block east to 2nd St. and Detroit.
The event was organized by Operation Underground Railroad (OUR).
“Operation Underground Railroad really spurred on a mission in Tulsa and surrounding areas. We planned that event and from the very beginning and we knew this was a foundation for something bigger,” staffer Jamie Miller said. “Our mission has been local organizations and locking arms with people that are fighting sex trafficking of children.”
Miller said she believes that the biggest issue is restoration. This refers to repairing the psychological damage that is inflicted upon the victim.
“Without restoration, 80% of children rescued return back into slavery,” Miller said. According to her, yesterday was the opening of a new 54-acre restoration facility here in Oklahoma called Mount Arukah. It will add 60 additional beds to the meager 150 available to trafficking victims nation wide.
Volunteer Catherine Duininck added, “I was encouraging people to reach out to the judges, if you look at sentencing, why do we have this judge constantly letting these people off on these really low bail bonds? Let’s look into that. Let’s write e-mails, e-mail Governor Stitt, ‘hey, we’ve got too many judges being way too easy. You need to crack down on them.'”
The demonstrators marched, carrying homemade signs that read “Children Don’t Just Disappear,” “Children are not for sale,” “End Human Trafficking” and many others. A woman carrying a megaphone led chants of “save our children” and “stop child pornography.” One demonstrator, Sarae Perkins, asserted that pornography websites allow people to upload videos without the permission of the people in front of the camera and many have been found to contain minors who have been trafficked and such websites are making a profit from it. “a company like that should be held accountable for what is happening within their company.”
Mandi Mathews said she began her deep dive into the issue during quarantine. “I spent hundreds, maybe thousands of hours researching (child trafficking). A lot of my spiritual studies and other esoteric studies, occult studies started coming into play, the ritualistic aspects of (pedophilia). That’s when I started putting the pieces together in the sense of how deep it really goes.”
The ultimate goal, according to Miller, is to raise the awareness of stay-at-home moms, college students, grandparents and educate them that human trafficking is happening here. “it’s not a third world country problem, it is an in-your-backyard problem.”
Update: All are welcome to attend the next rally to #SaveOurChildren at Centennial Park, 1028 East 6th Street, Tulsa at 11:00 am where it is planned to start marching at 11:30 down to the courthouse, then to the BOK Center and then east on 2nd and back to Centennial Park by 2:00 pm. It is hosted by Nikki Parmeter, Cherie Osha Hofmeyer and Hannah Leslie according to the #SaveOurChildren Facebook page.
Story and photos by Brad Harrell