282 flags flown to honor human trafficking victims in our region

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:31 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Tuesday is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. One group of people came together in Panama City Tuesday night to honor victims in our region.

The Panama City Circuit 14 Human Trafficking Task Force held a candlelit vigil by the Hathaway Bridge. 282 flags were placed by the bridge to honor the 282 child victims in our region in 2020. Task force leaders said the northwest region of the state is the highest in the state for human trafficking.

Kendra Gracia said she was only 17 when she fell victim to human trafficking in the Panhandle. She said she was exploited for almost 12 years and didn’t have the resources to help her get out. Now, it’s important to raise awareness that human trafficking can happen to anyone, at any time.

“I believe it’s important to raise awareness because a lot of people want to turn a blind eye to what’s going on, or they don’t want to believe that it’s happening here. They want to think that’s something that happens overseas, but the reality is it does happen here. Human trafficking knows no race, no age, no gender,” said Gracia.

Gracia said it was important for her to be there Tuesday night to provide resources for victims and survivors to have a better life. She said it was great to see the community come together to support this cause and want to step up and help.

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