'Red Means Help' campaign aims to help victims of labor trafficking

The Portland Police Bureau launches the Red Means Help campaign. (KATU Photo)

The Portland Police Bureau is launching a campaign to help the victims of labor trafficking escape their captors.

On Thursday night, it outlined how the program works.

It’s called Red Means Help.

Often people are brought here from other countries with the promise of work, but they wind up being forced to perform labor for free.

Many can’t speak English, so police are asking them to show red when they see an officer to alert them to the situation.

But experts say it takes a while for some people to ask for help because they’ve been brainwashed.

“Some of the traffickers are family members, and so there are barriers to law enforcement,” said Chanpone Sinlapasai, an immigration attorney. “Often they’re threatened that they’ll be deported or that if they leave and tell the doctor that the person that brought them is a trafficker that they’ll be taken away, killed, hurt, harmed. So there’s so many threats.”

The Red Means Help campaign has been designed by students at Portland State University. There will be strategically placed messages on public transit and other places where victims often go to make them aware of the program.

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