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New Mini Murals bring attention to serious issue during Human Trafficking Awareness Month

HOUSTON – A new public art installation is bringing human trafficking prevention and awareness to the streets of greater Northside Houston.

Four new “Mini Murals” that include a phone number to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, (888) 373-7888, have been unveiled on traffic signal control cabinets and are highly visible to anyone passing on the street.

The series was funded by Houston Council Member Karla Cisneros of District H and was completed with support from Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

“This public art installation is a unique project geared towards raising awareness and preventing the further exploitation of individuals in Houston,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Our hope is that these Mini Murals will not only bring awareness to human trafficking but will also encourage victims and witnesses to reach out for help by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

The four sites, (1) Airline at Crosstimbers, (2) Airline at Cavalcade, (3) Jensen at Crosstimbers, and (4) Moody Park, were selected based on 311 data as well as reports from constituents in the area.

An online survey was conducted to select artwork that would inspire hope and empower victims to reach out for help. The local artists commissioned for the project are Alex “Zú” Arzú and Anat Ronen, who each painted a cabinet, and Renee Victor, who painted two of the traffic signal control cabinets.

Houston Council Member Karla Cisneros initiated and funded the four new mini murals to reach out to victims of human trafficking.

“Victims of trafficking are typically isolated and hidden. Often, both victims and witnesses don’t know how to report this heinous crime or receive help,” said Council Member Cisneros. “The uplifting images on the Mini Murals will be a helpful resource. The goal is for these street art installations to bring hope and a number to call for help.”

Mini Mural is a program of UP Art Studio, which commissioned the artists and managed the projects.  The series was funded by the council member and the initiative was completed with support from Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence.

“We hope the Mini Murals will be effective in leveraging the power of public art to help raise awareness about human trafficking,” said Minal Patel Davis, director or the Mayor’s Office on Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. To learn more about human trafficking and the Mayor’s response, please visit humantraffickinghouston.org.

“We believe in the power of art and its ability to strengthen the fabric of communities. Art can improve awareness, inspire change, and encourage healing,” said Debbie McNulty, director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “Through the artwork of Houston-area artists, we aim to provide a resource for individuals most vulnerable to human trafficking within a community very much impacted by this tragic issue.”

Members of the media may contact UP Art Studio to schedule a private tour of the installations. The curated tour includes the opportunity to meet and interview the people involved in the program. Professional photographs of the completed works are available upon request.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month (also decreed National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, by presidential proclamation).

January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, also known as #WearBlueDay. Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign, designed to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases, according to the Department of Homeland Security website.

Fight Human Trafficking: Spot the Signs, Call the Hotline

If an individual is compelled to work in commercial sex through the use of force, fraud or coercion, it is human trafficking. Child abuse, or engagement of anyone under the age of 18 for commercial sex, is also human trafficking– regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion plays a role. People may also be trafficked for forced labor, criminal activities, and domestic servitude. Learn to Spot The Signs here: https://hopeforjustice.org/spot-the-signs/

If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation:
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking.
Text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733. Message and data rates may apply.
Chat the National Human Trafficking Hotline via www.humantraffickinghotline.org/chat
Submit a tip online through the anonymous online reporting form below. However, please note that if the situation is urgent or occurred within the last 24-hours we would encourage you to call, text or chat.
The information you provide will be reviewed by the Trafficking Hotline. All reports are confidential and you may remain anonymous. Interpreters are available via phone call only. Learn more about the Hotline’s approach and policies regarding reporting trafficking situations to law enforcement.
Report missing children or child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or through their Cybertipline.

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