Uprising, presents to Rock Springs City Council regarding Human Trafficking in SWC

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Terri Markham of Uprising organization presenting to city council on YouTube

Carly Eversole, [email protected]

Rock Springs, Wyoming – Uprising, a group based out of Sheridan Wyoming gave a presentation to Rock Springs City Council during its regular session last night September 20, 2022. The organization’s focus is education and awareness of human trafficking and its effect on Wyoming. Key speaker, Terri Markham, co-founder, and executive director presented to the board how human trafficking can present itself, how victims can be missed and how legislation at the state and local levels can help.

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Based on Markham’s presentation, human trafficking can present itself in a community in the forms of pimp control, gang control, family, DMST (domestic minor sex trafficking), online, and illicit massage businesses.

One of the main challenges in punishing human trafficking is a lack of education on what trafficking is and who is a victim. Victims, according to Markham, often go unidentified “survivors are highly unlikely to self-identify. Most of the survivors I know, it’s 5-10 years after their victimization that they realize what they experienced was trafficking.”

Being misidentified is another reason spotting victims is difficult. “Often times this is on the community level. Victims often do come into contact with law enforcement or community agencies but most of the time human trafficking intersects with other crimes,” said Markham

Reporting is the third reason that human trafficking awareness is limited added Markham, “Penalties in the state of Wyoming are not as hefty for human trafficking as they are for sexual assault of a minor so makes sense those charges are brought forward. Reporters have to report on charges in the way that it’s filed.”

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Detective Seargent Michelle Hall, who has been with Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years spoke to the council alongside Markham about the challenges of investigations being brought to a halt due to a lack of laws/ordinances. Hall stated “SWCSO has been investigating two of your businesses for the last 2 years. The reason I am here to talk to you today is because I came up against a wall and I can’t move forward. We know that sex acts are being performed at illicit massage parlors. Our problem is that it doesn’t fit any crimes.” Hall’s request went on further to request the city council update the city ordinances, particularly in regard to the regulation of massage parlors.

“The state of Wyoming in fact has very few laws regarding massage-oriented businesses,” added Markham

City Attorney Richard Beckwith added, “My office has already taken on the task of drafting a model ordinance. We can attack this from a couple of different angles but one of the angles is a regulatory scheme related to massage therapists and massage parlors and we’ll need some community input on this.”

The education outreach of Uprising extends to local businesses, a pregnancy resource center, and a

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