TAT announces winner of first-ever Harriet Tubman Award

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 9/13/2013

“Make the call, save lives” is Truckers Against Trafficking’s motto.

Recently, a truck stop general manager did just that, made the call, which resulted in the rescue of two runaway girls who may have become human trafficking victims.

Tracy Mullins, general manager of the Petro Stopping Center in Spokane, Wash., is the first-ever recipient of the Harriet Tubman Award, named after a woman who was instrumental to freeing those enslaved through the Underground Railroad.

Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking, told Land Line in September, that the Harriet Tubman Award, which includes a $500 award, was designed to recognize those who step up and make the call if they suspect human trafficking. TAT was founded in 2009 to combat human trafficking by enlisting the help of the transportation industry.

According to the group’s release, Mullins credits the Truckers Against Trafficking training she received as playing a “pivotal role in her awareness” that something just wasn’t right.

“I approached the table and asked the girls if everything was OK,” Mullins said in the release. “One of the girls told me the man was her uncle. The man seemed very uncomfortable and removed himself from the situation. The young girls then asked another driver for a ride.”

Law enforcement arrived and found out the girls were runaways from a neighboring state, according to the release.

Paris said those in the industry who make the initial call to the Polaris Project, which handles the national hotline number at 888-373-7888 – are also urged to contact Truckers Against Trafficking, which has developed an internal reporting system to identify, recognize and honor those  reporting possible human trafficking.

She said that while the Polaris Project handles the national hotline number – 888-373-7888 – truck drivers and others in the industry are also encouraged to contact tat.truckers@gmail.com with their stories.

“We would love to eventually have hundreds of nominations to choose from,” Paris said. “…I love the transportation symbolism between the Underground Railroad and the trucking industry as a means to secure freedom for those enslaved.”

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