On Tuesday, the Brentwood City Council agreed unanimously to bring the Red Sand Project to the city.
The move comes after the city previously had a presentation on the Red Sand Project and human trafficking during the January 8 meeting. At that meeting, Justin Gomez with the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition, highlighted that according to 2017 statistics, there were 1,305 cases of human trafficking reported here in California. In Contra Costa alone, they are serving 250 victims
The Red Sand Project aims to raise awareness about human trafficking through participatory artwork where participants are provided red sand (non-toxic) and pour it into cracks in the street or sidewalk. The idea is to highlight how many human trafficking victims fall through the cracks. The event also aims to bring people together to question, connect, and take action against human trafficking.
Brentwood City Manager Gus Vina issued an apology to council on this agenda item by bringing the item to the council as an informational item versus an on opportunity to discuss and consider but also to direct staff.
“Should council agree to the recommendation in the report, we would come back with specifics with dates and events,” said Vina. “Staff is proposing the city facilitating along with the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition the proposed Red Sand project in the City of Brentwood, specifically we are proposing that we could do that in connection with the Brentwood Farmers Market event.”
Vina further explained they would work with Parks & Recreation for an educational component at the community center.
Councilwoman Karen Rarey admitted during council discussion that she “got frustrated” at the last meeting and apologized for her outburst but highlighted why the event was important.
“Last year, I attended an event which featured speakers on the topic of human trafficking. One of the speakers, a Brentwood woman, said that unbeknownst to her, her teenage daughter who attended Liberty was coheres by a human trafficker using the Romeo effect. It wasn’t until she got a call from a detective in Southern California asking her to come and pick up her daughter that she learned what was going on,” said Rarey. “Her daughter had been rescued during a traffic ring sting down there and her daughters’ traffickers were preparing her to be shipped out with others out of the county for organ harvesting.”
Rarey explained that her daughter was approached and cohered right across the street from Liberty High School by Burger King.
“It is happening right here,” added Rarey. “You probably saw the news recently that an Antioch man who was arrested just after his 18th birthday on suspicion of human trafficking.”
Rarey also highlighted that last year, Golden Dragon Buffet here in Brentwood along with three other restaurants, the owners were arrested for forcing 40 employees to work 12-hour days, 6-days a week at less than minimum wage by keeping them in crowded homes.
She went on saying there were apps for teenagers that human traffickers are using to identify kids.
“The stories I shared are the reasons why I wanted to bring the Red Sand Project here and why the human trafficking 101 course is important to me,” said Rarey. “This will help people to identify who may be a victim.”
Councilman Johnny Rodriguez said he was glad this was being brought up because it was happening in the community.
Mayor Bob Taylor said the entire council feels this is an important topic and important for the city.
“I think this sets a great example for cities surrounding us and your coalition,” said Taylor.
The council then voted 5-0 to approve bringing the Red Sand Project to the City of Brentwood.