Downtown Grand Forks sidewalks getting a new look in effort to stop sex trafficking

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) A special event is planned in Grand Forks tonight to confront the problem of sex trafficking.

The “Red Sand Project” is designed to at least get a Community conversation going to start addressing the problem. It’s going to give the sidewalks of downtown Grand Forks, a whole new look.

Sex trafficking is a major problem all over the Country, including right here in the Valley. Just last month, 18 men in search of juvenile girls were arrested during a sex sting operation in Fargo.

UND Professor Nikki Berg Burin has been part of a group studying the history of sex trafficking across North Dakota.

Nikki Berg Burin, UND Women & Gender Studies: “We don’t have great statistics on it right now, but we do know it’s bad. We know there are tens of thousands of personal ads placed online. The average age of entry into prostitution is 13-years old. So, this is definitely a horrifying problem we need to address.”

Tonight at 7 p.m. here at Arbor Park on South Fourth Street in downtown Grand Forks, a public event will be held. Everyone will receive a bag of red sand to spread between the cracks of sidewalks. The idea to get a community conversation started, regarding sex trafficking.

Members of Youth Works out of Fargo will provide a few comments about the problem, before everyone takes part in the Red Sand Project.

Nikki Berg Burin, UND Women & Gender Studies: “So, this is an organization that works with troubled youth and homeless youth. We know that population is susceptible to sex trafficking. So, they’ll have a few remarks, telling us about the problem in North Dakota. Then we’ll spread out around downtown Grand Forks and place the sand in the sidewalk cracks. We’re not going to solve the problem tonight, but we’re going to start conversations. That’s why we’re doing this.”

If you can’t make it to tonight’s event at 7 o’clock you can still take part in the “Red Sand Project”. You can pick up your bag of Red Sand at their booth at this Saturday’s Farmers Market in downtown Grand Forks.