More than 50 digital billboards across Minnesota will aim to counter a surge in human-trafficking cases this year, part of a campaign to provide victims with resources to escape what officials on Thursday called “modern-day slavery.”
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center has reported that Minnesota has seen nearly 40 cases of human trafficking this year, representing a 12 percent increase over 2015.
The billboards were launched Thursday and will run for three weeks. The campaign is led by anti-human trafficking nonprofit Polaris and Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, and it follows the expansion of “safe harbor” laws in 2015 by Congress. The law encourages states to treat trafficked minors as victims, not as criminals.
“The sad truth, trafficking is a gigantic problem in Minnesota,” said U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican who joined Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in sponsoring the federal legislation. “But this billboard campaign will make a big difference in helping victims reach out to a hot line.”