Arizona boycotts have gained national attention over the years, and the latest one is sure to grab the public’s attention. On Thursday, Arizona launched a boycott of sorts; Arizona’s Not Buying It, a public awareness campaign created by the Attorney General ‘s office to deter demand and punish those that exploit children.
For three years, the Attorney General’s Office has been working with State leaders to craft legislation to end trafficking of young and vulnerable teens in Arizona.
With the Super Bowl coming to Glendale, now is the time to tell the world that Arizona’s Not Buying It.
In February, more than 45 pimps and their associates were arrested, some of whom claimed to have traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically for the purpose of prostituting women and children at the Super Bowl.
“High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division said at the time. According to the FBI, “The minors recovered during the Super Bowl operations range in ages from 13 to 17 years old and include high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.”
The Attorney General is coordinating strategies to stop human trafficking, training law enforcement, and working to create awareness to improve overall public safety. By acknowledging the correlation between trafficking and people coming to Arizona for conventions and sporting events, Horne believes that the state can begin to combat the sexual exploitation of children by traffickers.
These children are not only from poverty-stricken areas, but from every socio economic background. “The coercion of a vulnerable individual by these menacing predators must be stopped,” added Attorney General Tom Horne.
Formed in 2011, the Arizona Attorney General Underage Sex-Trafficking Coalition has worked to raise public awareness, and advocate for the development of local, regional, state and federal human trafficking laws. The Coalition has successfully raised the penalties.
The Attorney General’s office says that one of the ways to stop the trafficking is by following the money trail. Our youth, and they are mostly female, are being victimized by abusers who sell their “victims” for financial gain. “Victim advocates and members of law enforcement know there are many tentacles to this problem, Child pornography, drugs, misuse of technology to name a few,” according to Attorney General Tom Horne.
The effort was kicked off on Thursday by Phoenix Vice Mayor Jim Waring, who hosted a news conference at Chase Field to commemorate the new human trafficking law that took effect on Thursday. Speakers included Phoenix Assistant Police Chief Sandra Renteria, Glendale Police Chief Deborah Black, survivor-advocate Savannah Sanders and Attorney General Tom Horne. Police chiefs from Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Peoria, Scottsdale and Tempe were also in attendance.
HB 2454 increases penalties against traffickers and Johns, addresses online trafficking advertisements and creates criminal and civil penalties, and recognizes minor victims of human trafficking as victims under the law.
“Today’s event demonstrates the unified force at play here in Arizona when it comes to combating this crime that preys on children,” said Vice Mayor Waring. “This goes way beyond a big sporting event. This is about making it clear who the criminals are – and who are the victims – and moves us closer to ensuring Arizona is the most undesirable state in the nation for this kind of criminal activity – 365 days of the year.”
While Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva’s boycott hurt the children of Arizona, this boycott hopes to protect them.