#minorsextrafficking | Local mothers hold rally in downtown Cumming to bring further attention to human trafficking in Georgia

A small crowd of approximately 20 protesters gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Forsyth County Courthouse in downtown Cumming this past weekend with signs calling for community members to “protect our children” and “be their voice,” referring to continuing issues with human trafficking in Georgia. 

A group of three mothers in the county organized the rally on Saturday, Aug. 22, because they said, being parents themselves, they wanted to remind those in the community about the dangers of human trafficking and teach parents and young kids how they can look out for those dangers. 

One of the mothers, who asked not to be named, said worries surrounding the issues have been top of mind for her and other parents of young girls in recent weeks, especially after recent news broke of a Cumming resident’s arrest on child molestation charges. She said that she feels many in the community do not realize that child sex trafficking can happen “right in our backyard.” 

Metro Atlanta officials have made an effort to highlight human trafficking issues in recent years as, in 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline ranked Georgia as the fourth-highest state in labor trafficking victims and, in 2005, the FBI ranked Atlanta as one of 14 cities with the highest number of sexually trafficked children. 

Siara Pope, who created the online group to bring further awareness to human trafficking with the Forsyth community, holds up a sign at the rally on Saturday.
– photo by Sabrina Kerns

“How do we teach our kids who they can trust?” she said. “It’s important for them to recognize the signs of [child] grooming and to know that this does happen. As scary as it is, they need to know about it.” 

She, along with organizers Tia Day and Siara Pope, decided to hold a rally together to bring further attention to the issue, and they shared a digital flier on local group pages on Facebook to get the word out.  

Organizers started to worry, however, when others commenting on their Facebook posts started to question if they were connected to QAnon, a political conspiracy theory. Followers of QAnon claim that members of the Democratic political party, along with celebrities, are working against President Donald Trump and running an international sex trafficking ring. Similar protests were held across the U.S. this past weekend where many reported strong numbers of QAnon supporters showing up to promote the conspiracy theory through the guise of protesting against child sex trafficking. 

Most of those rallying in downtown Cumming on Saturday, however, seemed to want to distance themselves from the conspiracy theory and its followers. 

“I don’t want us to be affiliated with any political party or any conspiracy theory group,” Pope said. “All of our information that we’re sharing, it has to be factual. Because that’s the only way that we are actually doing any good.” 

Forsyth County resident Catherine Gregory-Taylor, who attended the rally with her daughter, Shelbie Carter, held a similar sentiment, making it clear that theories and rumors can distract from important facts. 

“Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but my response to that is don’t follow blindly,” Gregory-Taylor said. “Do your own research. Don’t continue to just put things forward because you heard someone say it …. Today is about indisputable [facts].” 

There was one man at the rally, a Forsyth County resident of more than 30 years who asked to not to be named, proudly holding up a sign reading #pizzagateisreal, referring to a debunked conspiracy theory from 2016 which claimed that Democratic officials were involved in a child sex trafficking ring underneath a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. 

Organizers asked him to hold up one of their own signs, referring only to protecting children, instead, but they said he refused. 

Pope said that the group has worked over the past few days to try to separate themselves from any conspiracy groups and focus on what

Human Trafficking Rally
An officer with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office hands water our to protestors outside of the courthouse on Saturday.
– photo by Sabrina Kerns

they want to work on in the future in Forsyth County and in the state.  

She has since created a group on Facebook for any North Georgia residents interested in being a part of classes or seminars in the future on human trafficking, the impact in Georgia and how to recognize the signs of human trafficking in the community. Pope said that they are also looking to simply bring more attention to the issue in the community and bring justice to and be the voice for younger children. 

The Facebook group rules clearly state that members cannot post information relating to conspiracies, theories, QAnon or Jeffery Epstein. 

The group is already planning to hold another rally in front of the courthouse in Cumming on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 2-5 p.m. For more information regarding upcoming plans and events, visit the group’s Facebook page, called Be Their Voice — North GA. 

“This is not about politics,” one organizer said. “We are not trying to push conspiracy theories. We are not trying to push anything. We are just trying to make sure that people in our local community have the resources and know where to go to educate themselves and their kids on this so that it doesn’t happen to them.” 


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