Free our Children march draws a big crowd in Twin Falls

Organizers hope the event raises awareness in the Gem State
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 1:03 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - In 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported more than 11, 000 human trafficking cases in the U.S, but only 26 cases were reported for Idaho. Some in the Gem State believe the number of actual cases is much higher than that, so a Twin Falls couple organized a march on Sunday to raise some much-needed awareness surrounding the issue.

Cortney Potter and her husband Nick organized their very first Free the Children march in Twin Falls on Sunday at the corner of 6th Avenue and Minidoka. The couple said they took up the cause when they had for their first child.

“I never felt fear until I had a child... and then all of a sudden if you say that will never happen to me, then it might happen to you because your guard is completely down,” Cortney Potter said.

She said the primary focus of the march is to raise awareness on human trafficking and sexual abuse of minors. The couple believes the number of cases involving sexual abuse and exploitation of minors in the Gem State is being under-reported.

“So to think it doesn’t happen everywhere is something that we need to change,” Cortney Potter said.

Devin Sessoms who participated in the march on Sunday said he hopes the event not only raises awareness in Twin Falls but also encourages people to speak up when they see or hear of abuse.

“To inspire others to step forward and say something, that’s what we have a mouth and heart for,” Sessoms said.

Veronica Seimermears, who attended the event with her children, believes its time for people in Twin Falls and Idaho to stand up and protect their youth.

“Children just do not disappear. This is something we should have been standing up for and fighting a very long time ago,” said Seimermears. “We are going to save a lot of kids. We are bringing so much awareness by doing this.”

Cortney Potter said she also believes there needs to much stiffer penalties for people who victimize children.

“We don’t necessarily need new laws, but we need to update some of the existing ones because some of these men and women get off scot-free,” Cortnet Potter said. “We generally think this matters. We need to start making these people pay.”

The Free our Children march started at 1 PM on Sunday and was about a mile long. It ended at City Park in Twin Falls. The Potters were considering rescheduling the event because they were concerned the poor air quality from the California wildfires would affect attendance.

“We didn’t want to sway the support that we already had. We didn’t want people to get all ready for it, and then go ‘Oh well, it didn’t’,” Nick Potter said.

More than 50 people attended the event, including participants from Save our Children who were also having on a march on Sunday in Twin Falls. The Potters said it was important to them that the march was focused on helping children, and it was non-political and peaceful.

“To show people that there is more than one way to use your voice. You don’t have to burn things down to get attention. You don’t have to yell and scream and get in fights,” Cortney Potter said,

The couple would like to start having Free our Children marches annually, and they hope the first one made an impact.

“Even if we touched one person today, managed to inform somebody that didn’t know, and they save one child, that was enough,” Nick Potter said.

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