NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As Nashville gears up for the return of CMA Fest, it’s not just country music that will be on center stage.
For Mary Trapnell and her team, human trafficking is their main focus for this year’s festival. “Anytime there is money being spent you can rest assured that the human trafficking industry will find a way to be there because they’re a business.”
The Executive Director of the Nashville Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition added, “There’s a party spirit that goes along with a festival that we all enjoy and we appreciate, but the human trafficking industry preys on that and they know that people will have too much to drink, they may want more drugs than they normally have and along with that comes the opportunity for girls to be sold as well.”
Trapnell says Music City’s growth and the power of the internet make it much easier for girls to be trafficked. “They book that business — They make that decision that they’re going to buy someone for sex and for sexual favors and it’s all done in private.”
Lt. Bill Miller with Tennessee Highway Patrol says they, along with other law enforcement agencies, will be on alert but encourage the public to reach out if they see anything suspicious at CMA Fest.
“Whether you’re distracted by having a good time or you’re distracted watching a ball game or whether you’re distracted listening to music just be mindful of your surroundings,” he said. “If you see something say something.”
Trapnell’s team will be ready for an influx of calls this weekend, but her advice is to know that victims are all around you and remember to show them compassion. “I’m surprised on these rescues when girls are interviewed and say what made a difference? Why this time? Why did you want to get help and often it is someone, a compassionate moment, to smile, to care, and to ask her if she was in trouble.”