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BCRI and FBI’s joint conference among events during weekend of 55th anniversary of church bombing

Andrea Taylor, President and CEO of The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute which will mark its 25th year. (Frank Couch Photography)
By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Birmingham Division will host its 13th annual joint conference on Sunday, Sept. 16 and Monday, Sept. 17 with a focus on human and labor trafficking.

The conference comes on the weekend of the 55th commemoration of the day the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed on Sept. 15, 1963.

“The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the FBI’s Birmingham Division are collaborating again, as has become the tradition since 2006, to host the annual conference to educate and shine the light on subjects that not only affect people within our community but around the nation and the entire world,” said Andrea L. Taylor, BCRI President & CEO. “This year our focus is Human and Labor Trafficking to make the community aware of the prevalence of this horrific crime and preventive measures to address the issue in our communities.”

The conference is free, but registration is required at https://www.bcri.org/fbi-conference-2/.

The conference begins on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 3:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The public will have the opportunity to be a part of the discussion of labor and sex trafficking along with a tour of the BCRI facility. The tour will include the photography exhibit “Foot Soldiers: Profiles in Courage: Then and Now” by Chester Higgins.

The conference will continue on Monday, Sept. 17 at the BCRI with training sessions from community leaders. The first session is from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and will focus on sex trafficking. Highlighting this session will be Tina Frundt, a survivor of sex trafficking and a national advocate for child sex trafficking victims. Frundt founded the national nonprofit Courtney’s House in 2008. The organization searches for children who are forced into prostitution, embraces survivors with curative care, and trains community officials and creates awareness.

The second session will be from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and will concentrate on labor trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a form of human slavery which must be addressed at the interagency level. And today, we need both our law enforcement partners and the community to work together with us in this fight,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. “It’s my hope that whether you are a law enforcement officer, or just a concerned citizen, you can learn and draw from what will be presented at our conference.”

The FBI is the primary federal agency responsible for investigating all allegations regarding criminal violations of federal civil rights statutes. These laws are designed to protect the civil rights of all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike within U.S. territory. The laws include: hate crimes; “color of law” violations (actions taken by a person acting under authority of local, state, or federal laws to willfully deprive someone of their rights secured under the Constitution); human trafficking (the illegal “business” of trafficking persons into forced labor and prostitution); and freedom of access to clinic entrances.

Since 2006, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Birmingham Division, have joined forces to develop training models for law enforcement officials and the community. The resulting conferences on law enforcement and civil rights examine the history of the Civil Rights Movement and encourage law enforcement officials and the community to reflect upon their personal and professional responsibilities in our pluralistic society. The discussion is designed to build trust and open the lines of communication between law enforcement agencies, their personnel and the communities they serve.

Conference presenters include:

Arthur Price Jr., Pastor, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham

Jay E. Town, US Attorney, Northern District of Alabama

Lynneice Washington, District Attorney, Bessemer

Patrick D. Smith, Chief of Police, Birmingham Police Department

Carlton Reese Memorial Choir

Christian Lim, University of Alabama

Elizabeth Neumann, Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy, Department of Homeland Security

Leonard Carollo, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI

Matt Davis, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

Tina Frundt, National Trafficking Victim Advocate and Survivor