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CAST, Polaris, & Clear Channel Outdoor Launch Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign

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The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), Polaris, and Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO) were joined by county and city elected officials and advocates today as they announced a partnership to raise awareness against human trafficking in the greater Los Angeles area. CAST, Polaris, and CCO launched an advertising campaign, along with regional elected officials and actor and Polaris Ambassador Terry Crews, to assist victims of the crime by providing information about how they can escape. The campaign features the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s (NHTRC) 24-hour, multi-lingual hotline for victims and community members. The NHTRC is operated by Polaris. CCO donated space on 25 digital billboards, 20 traditional billboards, and 20 transit shelter posters throughout the Southland to help spread this important message and encourage victims to seek assistance. The advertisements are running in English and Spanish.

“It is important that all Los Angeles County residents learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking and do their part to report and combat this horrific crime,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “I applaud CAST, Polaris, and Clear Channel Outdoor for bringing this issue out of the dark with the bold public awareness campaign announced today. We must do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable young children.”

The Los Angeles area’s diverse populations and sprawling geography, combined with its international transit hubs, make it a hotbed for the growing crime of human trafficking. Unfortunately, because of the covert nature of human trafficking and the intimidation and manipulation tactics often used to bring victims under traffickers’ control, it remains extremely difficult to combat.

“The fight against human trafficking is an on-going struggle, and public awareness is essential to winning that fight,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson. “I am grateful for the leadership of CAST, Polaris and Clear Channel Outdoor. They are truly making an important difference.”

“I would like to commend Clear Channel Outdoor, Polaris and CAST for helping combat sex trafficking in our communities,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We need everyone to take notice. These billboards will help spread the word, will educate and raise awareness so that victims know they are not alone and that there is a way out.”

The billboard awareness partnership was announced at a press conference that brought together regional elected officials, anti-trafficking nonprofit organizations, and advocates to discuss the growing issue of human trafficking in Los Angeles County and the increasing need for awareness campaigns to urge the public to report the crime and provide victims a resource to escape their captors.

“Knowing there is a safe place to go in the community is an important first step for a human trafficking survivor,” said Kay Buck, Executive Director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST). “Survivors can trust that when they reach out for help, CAST will be there with a safe home, help with legal proceedings, life skills, and job opportunities. We are building important partnerships that are committed to bringing survivors to a place where they are no longer enslaved, but can now contribute to the rich diversity and social fabric of Los Angeles.”

Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing criminal activity – worth an estimated $150 billion a year. The crime has forced approximately 20.9 million people worldwide to live in modern day slavery, including hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children here in the United States. Los Angeles has become a top hub for modern slavery and human trafficking, making the fight to end the crime in Los Angeles County important on a national scale.

“Victims of human trafficking need to know there is help available for them when they are ready to reach out and be connected to services across the country, including here in Los Angeles. Raising awareness about modern slavery and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline through campaigns like these is critical as we work to empower victims to rebuild their lives,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. “Polaris is grateful to participate in this effort with CAST, Clear Channel Outdoor, and the many officials and advocates throughout the region who are fighting this crime.”

Polaris and Clear Channel Outdoor have forged a national partnership that will see the launch of anti-human trafficking campaigns in additional targeted cities where human trafficking is proliferating. Clear Channel Outdoor commenced its first anti-human trafficking campaign alongside Polaris in Philadelphia in 2012 and has since supported campaigns with various anti-trafficking organizations in Baltimore, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, New Jersey, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and across the entire state of Texas. CCO, County Supervisor Don Knabe and MTA launched their first anti-human trafficking campaign in L.A. in 2012 and this marks the second anti-human trafficking supported by Supervisor Knabe and CCO this year.

“The fight against human trafficking is daunting in scale, making it increasingly important that the public be engaged in the effort to recognize and report the crime,” said Greg McGrath, President of Southern California for Clear Channel Outdoor. “Everyone needs to ensure they’re aware of the signs of human trafficking and are able to report it when they spot it; Clear Channel Outdoor is proud to be a part of this effort to raise awareness and to combat this abominable crime.”

The unique ability of digital signs to reach a wide audience while displaying messages in real-time allows them to act as valuable resources in the fight against crimes, like human trafficking, that occur around us every day. CCO has routinely lent these tools to support real time, life-saving messaging like AMBER Alerts, FBI and U.S. Marshall Wanted notices and emergency notifications. The boards are also a useful tool for non-profit organizations, public safety agencies, law enforcement and a variety of others who need to effectively relay messages to the public.

“Modern slavery is the husband coerced through violence to harvest crops, it’s the mother forced to work excessive hours as a domestic servant with little pay, and it’s the daughter sold online for sex against her will. Modern slavery is the 20.9 million people worldwide estimated to be victims of sex and labor trafficking, and we must do what’s in our power to restore their freedom,” said Terry Crews, Polaris Ambassador, actor, and former NFL player. “The more we raise awareness about the help available for victims of human trafficking in America, the more we can empower them to become survivors.”

The anti-trafficking campaign goes up today throughout the greater Los Angeles area. To get help or report a suspected instance of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733). Hotline Call Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to take reports from anywhere in the country related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur.

For more information on CAST, please visit www.castla.org, and for more information on Polaris, please visit www.polarisproject.org.

About the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST)

For over 15 years, CAST, a Los Angeles-based organization with international and domestic programming, has championed a survivor-centered approach to combatting human trafficking. CAST provides trafficking survivors with a continuum of life-transforming services: a 24-hour emergency response system; legal and social services; and a world-renowned survivor leadership program. Through this intensive work in the trenches, CAST holds a unique perspective that has impacted state and federal policies, as well as catalyzed innovative partnerships which have transformed the trajectories of survivors’ lives. CAST has been honored with the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons and is a recognized leader in the anti-trafficking field. Learn more at www.castla.org or follow CAST on Twitter (@CASTLA) and Facebook (CASTLosAngeles).

About Polaris

Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systemically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do — helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.

About Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc.

Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc., (NYSE:CCO) is one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies, with more than 675,000 displays in over 40 countries across five continents, including 47 of the 50 largest markets in the United States. Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings offers many types of displays across its global platform to meet the advertising needs of its customers. This includes a growing digital platform that now offers over 1,000 digital billboards across 39 U.S. markets. Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings’ International segment operates in nearly 30 countries across Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America in a wide variety of formats. More information is available at www.clearchanneloutdoor.com and http://www.clearchannelinternational.com.

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