Protest targets human trafficking

Vincent Medino, a member of Purpose Church, protests sex trafficking of people under 18 Tuesday in Pomona. Medino and other congregation members gathered on all four corners of Garey and Holt avenues to broadcast their message to passing cars. The event was sponsored by Care 18 LA, an organization targeting the sex trafficking hotspots in the Los Angeles area. / photo by Tyler Deacy
Vincent Medino, a member of Purpose Church, protests sex trafficking of people under 18 Tuesday in Pomona. Medino and other congregation members gathered on all four corners of Garey and Holt avenues to broadcast their message to passing cars. The event was sponsored by Care 18 LA, an organization targeting the sex trafficking hotspots in the Los Angeles area. / photo by Tyler Deacy

Humberto Fabian
Staff Writer

Members of the Purpose Church in Pomona gathered to take a stand and bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking Tuesday.

The event took place in the intersection of Holt and Garey avenues in Pomona, a heavily trafficked intersection, as members stood with signs encouraging drivers to honk their horns in support of ending the reprehensible practice.

Event coordinator Jay Walden, who is also a minister for the church, welcomed guests as he gathered everyone in prayer for one another and for those who have been victims of sex trafficking.

Following the prayer, Walden split the members into groups and had them stand on each corner of Holt and Garey avenues, as they held up signs facing the passing vehicles.

The signs read “STOP Human Trafficking,” “Un Hombre de Verdad No Paga Por Sexo,” and “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.” They even promoted a hashtag that said “Time to Care,” and as cars noticed the signs they honked in support.

“The fact is that human beings were created by God, not for this type of an industry,” Walden said. “These boys and girls that are sold in this are somebody’s kids and we want Pomona to know that we as a church and as men of God stand against this thing.”

Members of the Purpose Church work closely with an organization called Care 18, which serves the Southern California area.

Their main focus is to get rid of sex trafficking of kids 18 and under.

Those participating in what Walden refers to as a silent witness, stand out there for an hour and 18 minutes between 7 p.m. to 8:18 p.m.

“Eighteen stands for the trafficking that is happening for kids 18 and under,” Walden said. “So we stand as silent witnesses and we’re not out here to cause trouble, we tell the city of Pomona that we’re here to help and they are aware why we’re here.”

He said the city of Pomona is one of the main cities they like to target because it is a hot spot for human trafficking since it has a larger population.

Joseph Echeverria, a member of the Purpose Church and volunteer for Men Standing Against Trafficking, said he has been involved with the organization for over two years.

He spoke about becoming affected by the issue of sex trafficking after attending several events hosted by Tamiko Chacon, who is the justice ministry of the Purpose Church in charge of providing a safe haven for the victims.

“I never knew this was such a huge issue, especially here in Pomona,” Echeverria said. “Just the stories of some of these girls that have been out there on the streets and the steps that are made to help them is incredible.”

Walden said that he feels it is his responsibility as a man to educate other men about this issue and hopes to bring awareness to junior high and high school students too.

He also spoke about running into issues with human traffickers who did not agree with their purpose, but Walden said he would continue to do what it takes.

“I’m at an age now where when God calls me home, he calls me home,” Walden said.

“If it was because I caught a bullet here, if it makes someone stand up and take notice why we’re doing it, then shoot me now.”

Humberto Fabian can be reached at humberto.fabian@laverne.edu.

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