Red sand in Greensburg to raise awareness of human trafficking
Volunteers grasping bags of red sand carefully poured the contents into the sidewalk cracks along Greensburg’s St. Clair Park on Tuesday.
The scarlet-lined sidewalks will remain until the sand is naturally washed away.
The Red Sand Project is a national initiative designed to raise awareness of modern-day slavery, brought to Greensburg by the Blackburn Center and the Westmoreland County Human Trafficking Task Force.
“We just wanted to raise awareness, make sure that people are aware that human trafficking isn’t just an issue that happens in other countries, it’s not just an issue that happens in inner cities, it’s a local issue. It happens everywhere,” said Jason Slonceski, assistant director of the Westmoreland Children’s Bureau and member of the task force.
Research shows there are as many as 40 million victims of human trafficking in the world, the majority of whom never receive justice, according to the Blackburn Center, a Greensburg organization that supports and protects victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The red sand, scattered in sidewalk cracks, represents people who have “fallen through the cracks” of the justice system, according to the center.
This is the second time the center brought the project to Greensburg.
Last year, the sand was limited to the sidewalks around the county courthouse. This year, it has expanded to Saint Clair Park and the streets around Excela Westmoreland Hospital.
Volunteers started spreading the sand Tuesday. When they finish early next week, they will have distributed about 225 pounds of sand.
Volunteer Brett Baumgartel said he hopes the project reminds people to keep their eyes open and contact authorities if they see suspected human trafficking.
“If something is wrong, or if something doesn’t seem right, report it,” he said.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.