If not us, who? And if not now, when?

Tampa hosting the 2021 Superbowl provides the perfect opportunity to tackle Human Trafficking at the local level.

On Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 6:30pm Super Bowl LV will kickoff at our very own Raymond James Stadium here in Tampa, FL. Every city wants to put its best foot forward when hosting big events and Tampa is no different. I’m sure we can expect stadium renovations, new landscaping in the medians, and other beautification projects to leave a good impression on the tens of thousands of visitors here for the big game.

Superbowls bring more than just the two best teams in the NFL, throngs of fans and flybys of military jets to the host city, and it brings Human Trafficking as well. Traffickers see any large event that draws potential buyers to a city and an opportunity to make money due to the increased demand. Unfortunately, Human Trafficking is huge problem every day of the year not just during the Super Bowl and  recent studies have indicated that large events might not cause such a profound increase in trafficking as many believe.

Nevertheless, the Superbowl coming to town, and the awareness of Human Trafficking that comes with it, provides an excellent opportunity to get some real progress in tacking the persistent issues that Tampa has had with Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

Its been over two years since News Channel 8 launched its investigative journalism series 
“Storefronts for Sex?” and Clean Up Kennedy spearheaded the campaign to put more regulation in place at the City level to crack down on Illicit Massage Businesses in Tampa. With an ordinance passed on the City and County level and public pressure campaign against the property owners and businesses. Many of the Suspected Illicit Businesses have closed, but some are still operating today.

Mahsa Saeidi has taken up the “Storefronts for Sex?” series started by Mark Douglas (who is enjoying his retirement) and recently interviewed the Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan and Mayor Castor. In her interview she asked the hard questions about how the city was doing tacking this systemic problem. I highly recommend you check out her article and the videos

Some quotes from the interview:

“The issue we have is there’s not a lot of teeth in anything that law enforcement does,” said Chief Dugan.

“I think opening up to inspection, officers could walk through the entire building,” said Mayor Castor.

The “Teeth” that Chief Dugan is talking about could be expanded regulation on the City level that could mean amending or creating new ordinances. So iron your Clean up Kennedy shirts, we could be going back to the City Council Chambers soon.

A lot has changed in the last few years in the Anti-trafficking movement here in Tampa, the organizations who fight for those caught up in evil of Human Trafficking are bigger, more organized and have access to more resources than ever before. As I have said the goal of the "Clean up Kennedy" initiative is simple: 'To make Tampa a bad place to do business, if you are in the business of Commercial Sexual Exploitation." 

If you made it to the end of this post the answer to the question stated in the title should be clear. 

Its US and its NOW.

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