Community gathers to march for freedom
Over 100 people were up early Saturday to march down Dodge and 72nd St. to raise awareness for human trafficking.
It was part of a global event to encourage people to get involved and to support groups fighting against the violence.
"It's not ok that humans are sold. It's not ok that humans are used as commodities, and that's why we're here," Samantha Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove lead the way to get people to talk about and better understand how human trafficking victimizes people all over the world every day.
"Not a lot of people know that slavery still happens today because it's hidden," she said.
The signs can be hard to spot, and that's exactly why Cosgrove said she believes awareness needs to improve.
"In order for these victims to be survivors, we need more people to know the signs, even medical staff, teachers, friends, so that they can help their friends get out of it," she said.
According to Cosgrove, trafficking is most common within romantic relationships and is a slow progression rather than a dramatic abduction.
"There could be physical signs too, like bruises. Maybe a new addiction to drugs or alcohol that they didn't have before, but that's not always there. It's more a slow, emotional, mental takeaway from their environment," she detailed.
Traffickers prey on victims that they can manipulate, according to Cosgrove. That's why having a community that is more aware overall helps protect everyone.
"Some of the things that we can do to keep ourselves safe from trafficking is having a community that we trust. If we're a younger person, like a teenage or college student, having parents, family, friends that are trustworthy that are looking out for our best interest," Cosgrove said.
Walk For Freedom events like Saturday's are happening in over 450 cities globally, and organizers in Omaha said they are grateful for the support of community leaders standing up for the cause.