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by German Lopez 08.08.2012
Posted In: News, Human Rights, Sex at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ohio AG Releases Disturbing Human Trafficking Report

Most common buyers of trafficking victims were law enforcement

The Ohio Attorney General’s office today released a report on human trafficking in Ohio which found that out of 328 self-identified human trafficking victims, more than one-third were trafficked while they were minors.

The victims were taken from all around Ohio, including Cincinnati. The report found that 63 percent of the victims had run away from home at least once, 59 percent reported having friends involved in selling, 47 percent were raped more than a year before being trafficked and 44 percent reported to be victims of child abuse.

In Cincinnati, the most common risk factors reported were dropping out of school and having an older boyfriend. Rape was third with 40 percent of Cincinnati victims reporting being raped.

In all of Ohio, the most common buyers for victims were law enforcement. Businessmen and drug dealers were second and third, respectively. In Cincinnati, the most common buyers were drug dealers, followed by factory workers, then truckers.

The report highlights the severity of human trafficking in Ohio. A 2010 report by the same commission found that 1,000 American-born youth had been trafficked in Ohio over the course of the year, and as many as 3,000 American-born youth in Ohio were at risk for trafficking.

Since the 2010 report, Gov. John Kasich has signed H.B. 262 into law, which outlaws human trafficking and enforces tougher rules.

However, the commission does not believe current law is enough, and it’s pushing for more rules against human trafficking. The new rules would identify trafficking as child abuse, place a focus on arresting and convicting buyers and invest in responding to adult sex trafficking. The commission also wants a better response to youth runaways, and it wants to establish better protocols for dealing with at-risk youth, especially in correspondence with school officials.

When contacted by CityBeat, the Ohio Attorney General’s office said they have no suggestions to specifically deal with law enforcement officials, which topped the list of buyers, who are involved in human trafficking.

The report was issued by the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission. It was authored by commission member Celia Williamson, who is also a professor at the University of Toledo. The full report can be found here.

by Danny Cross 08.20.2012
w&s flyby

W&S Flyby: ‘Stop Bullying Anna Louise Inn’

Plane flies protest banner above W&S Open finals

Spectators at the Western & Southern Open’s finals on Sunday also saw a plane flying overhead pulling a banner protesting the tournament’s corporate sponsor. The banner read: “W&S Stop Bullying Anna Lou Inn STPWS.COM.” 

Activists continue to protest Western & Southern’s treatment of the Anna Louise Inn, which has been helping women in the Lytle Park neighborhood for more than a century. CityBeat last week reported the details of Western & Southern’s failure to purchase the property when it had the chance and the company’s subsequent attempts to force the Inn to leave the neighborhood anyway. 

The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, released a statement on Saturday describing the protest banner as proof for local and national leaders that Western & Southern’s actions won’t be tolerated. The statement read: “We will continue to up the ante until you stop attacking the hard-working women of the Anna Louise Inn.”

Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, said in an email to CityBeat that the plane flew for two 30-minute stints on Sunday. Spring said protesters distributed 2,000 flyers outside the tournament’s gates and that the people who learned what Western & Southern was doing generally expressed frustration. The banner was made possible by contributions from several local organizations, including Occupy Work and Wages, Amos Project, the Homeless Coalition, SEIU Local 1, Mount Auburn Presbyterian church and other concerned citizens and groups. 

The banner asks people to go to stpws.com to learn more. The website redirects to www.southernwestern.net, which is the site where activists finally were able to publish a satirical video parodying a Western & Southern spokesperson proud of his company’s attacks on the Anna Louise Inn. The video was originally posted in June to YouTube and Vimeo, but was removed for copyright infringement shortly after Western & Southern found out about it. Western & Southern didn’t return CityBeat’s calls back then asking whether or not W&S was involved in forcing the removal of the video. The website includes a change.org petition asking Western & Southern to stop suing the Anna Louise Inn.

Cincinnati’s Historic Conservation Board is scheduled to hear arguments on Aug. 27 that could lead to a conditional use permit and allow the Anna Louise Inn to move forward with a renovation Western & Southern stalled by suing the Inn. It will take place 3 p.m. on the seventh floor of 805 Central Ave.

Read this week's CityBeat cover story on the issue here.

by 05.06.2010
Posted In: Courts, Police, Human Rights at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sheriff Settles Suit for $30,000

It seems Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. doesn’t like speaking under oath in a court of law, and wants taxpayers to pay to help him avoid it.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a former Justice Center inmate over an August 2007 incident in which he was shot three times by a pepperball gun at point blank range while already incapacitated.

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by Kevin Osborne 12.16.2011
Posted In: LGBT Issues, Community, Human Rights at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

LGBT Group Elects Officers

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Greater Cincinnati recently held its annual membership meeting and elected leaders for 2012.

Rusty Lockett and John Maddux were elected to another term as board president and vice president, respectively. Lockett formerly served as the center’s clerk before first being elected president in early 2010. Also, he has served as event chairman for Pride Night at Kings Island in September and is convener of the local LGBT Episcopal worship group, called Integrity.

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by 12.21.2009

Homeless Memorial Day Marked

People who died during the past year and didn’t have a home will be remembered today during a ceremony at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine.

Homeless Memorial Day is an annual event usually held on the day of the year with the longest amount of nighttime hours. A national day of mourning, the local ceremony is sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.

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by Danny Cross 09.22.2011

Morning News and Stuff

Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson has some explaining to do after being caught yesterday receiving a shipment of 2.5 points of weed to his home. Authorities found another 6 pounds inside the Crestview Hills house, which Simpson owns. Here's how the incident will affect your fantasy football team, should you have made the mistake of drafting Jerome Simpson.

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by Danny Cross 10.19.2011

Occupy Cincinnati Updates 10/19

A federal judge has ordered police to stop ticketing Occupy Cincinnati protesters after the group filed a lawsuit against the city for banning people from Piatt Park when it closes. The city has already ticketed protesters approximately $25,000.

J. Robert Linneman, one of the attorneys who filed the suit, according to Bloomberg Businessweek:

"This case is not about the whether you agree with the political views of Occupy Cincinnati or Occupy Wall Street; it's about the right of the people to assemble in a public park and to engage in protected speech."

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by Hannah McCartney 03.30.2012
Posted In: Human Rights at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ohio Creates Human Trafficking Task Force

Gov. Kasich gives task force 90 days to measure ability to identify victims

“Can you tell me how a 13-year-old kid can be snatched, blackmailed, drugged, raped, in our state? In our country?”

That’s the question Ohio Gov. John Kasich asked audiences Thursday before signing an executive order to create the Human Trafficking Task Force, which is intended to combat human trafficking across the state and help victims recover.

“I don’t think I can think of a greater evil than what we know as the human slave trade,” said Kasich, before signing the  order.

A 2010 study conducted by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission revealed that about 1,000 American-born children are forced into sex trade in Ohio every year, while about 800 immigrants fall victim to human trafficking, either through sexual exploitation or manipulation into hard labor.

Kasich’s executive order will give the task force 90 days to examine Ohio’s current ability to identify victims. The board of the task force will be comprised of representatives from youth prisons, public safety departments, state health and human services and the state Cosmetology Board (some trafficking is suspected in nail salons, which the Cosmetology Board oversees).

“They’ll tell me where the holes are, but we have lot more work to do,” Kasich said. “We need everybody in America to step in on this.”

Ohio is suspected to be a major player in the U.S. human trafficking industry because of its large immigrant population, proximity to Canada and growing demand for cheap labor in light of difficult economic times, according to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report.

There’s currently no state funding set aside for the task force; the task will work hand-in-hand with Attorney General Mike DeWine's Human Trafficking Commission to buffer already existing efforts.

Human trafficking as a problem that pervades the Western world; it’s often defined as a third-world ailment, one that’s found in countries ridden with poverty and a lack of industrialization. The issue of human trafficking, however, is one that pervades nearly every country, although it’s an issue that garners far less attention in developed nations.

At any given point in time, an estimated 2.5 million people across the world are subjects of forced labor (including sexual exploitation) as a result of human trafficking.

by 07.07.2011
Posted In: News, LGBT Issues, Protests, Religion, Human Rights at 11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Westboro Comes to Town

A small group of protestors from the controversial “God hates fags” church in Kansas marched outside downtown's Duke Energy Convention Center this morning to oppose another religious group holding its nationwide meeting there.

The group from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., picketed the North American Christian Convention, the annual meeting of churches, colleges, institutions and missions programs associated with the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ organization. About 10,000 people are expected to attend.

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by Hannah McCartney 06.28.2013
Posted In: Human Rights, Public Policy at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attorney General Releases Human Trafficking Report

Law enforcement identified 38 trafficking victims last year among estimated thousands

 New data released today in the first annual Human Trafficking Statistics Report, compiled by the state’s Human Trafficking Commission, provides reports on human trafficking investigations conducted by local law enforcement agencies across the state.

Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law, also known as House Bill 262, was passed June 27 last year to combat Ohio’s human trafficking plague by harshening penalties for traffickers and offering trafficking victims more resources to heal. Included in the legislation was the mandate that the established task force, the Human Trafficking Commission, collect statistics and reports on human trafficking investigations, cases and arrests, for an annually published report. 

The report chronicles 30 different human trafficking investigations, which have resulted in 15 arrests and 17 prosecutions over the past year. Some of the investigations are still ongoing.

Thirty-eight sex trafficking victims were identified by local law enforcement last year, most of whom where identified as white or between the ages of 18 and 29. Only one reported victim was male. That represents just a fraction of the thousands of total Ohioans who fall victim to human trafficking in Ohio each year; around 1,000 Ohio youths and 800 foreign-born were trafficked across Ohio. Thousands more are considered "at risk" of becoming trafficking victims, which makes grand estimates on the total number of actual victims virtually impossible.

Law enforcement officers were also asked to identify possible social and economic vulnerabilities that made certain victims more susceptible to trafficking, which included a history of being oppressed or impoverished and possibly experiencing alcohol and drug dependency issues, although enforcement wasn't able to distinguish whether dependency issues actually made victims more vulnerable or if the experience of being trafficked facilitated dependency problems.

Most traffickers were males between the ages of 21 and 29, according to the data.

In 2010, the state of Ohio was considered among the "worst states" for human trafficking by the Polaris Project, a national organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking. In a 2012 report from Polaris, Ohio was ranked one of the "most improved" states of 2012, thanks to the passage of the Safe Harbor Law.

However, in January, anti-human trafficking organization Shared Hope International gave Ohio a "C" for its human trafficking legislation, up several points from a "D" in 2012.

In Ohio, two high-profile trafficking cases, including that of captor Ariel Castro, who kidnapped three young girls and locked them in a basement for nearly 10 years, and the four Ashland, Ohio, residents who enslaved a mentally disabled woman and her daughter into forced labor, have recently made international headlines.

In Cincinnati, City Council recently approved a four-pronged set of initiatives to battle local issues with human trafficking and prostitution, which are especially prevalent along McMicken Avenue and in the neighborhoods of Camp Washington and Lower Price Hill.

Ohio House Bill 130, which was recently approved unanimously by the Ohio House, would, if passed, further increase penalties for sex-trafficking and prostitution related offenses involving minors and disabled persons and also establish a spousal notification requirement for convicted trafficking and prostitution offenders. It will now move to the Ohio Senate for consideration.