ANDERSON — About 50 people gathered at the Anderson City Building on Sunday afternoon and marched in downtown Anderson to support the end of child sex trafficking.
Dustin and Sydney Stout and their daughters, Layla, 16, and Lily, 13, all of Pendleton, organized the “Save Our Children march,” as it was titled on Facebook, because the issue of child sex trafficking has not been talked about enough, they said.
“I’ve been following this for about three or four years, and it has been something that’s been so quiet and not forefront for especially children,” Sydney Stout said. “Like their age group, like their friends have no idea, so what we really wanted to do was bring awareness to all ages.”
The Stouts along with some other attendees wore royal blue T-shirts bearing a handprint and #SaveOurChildren.
“Kids shouldn’t have to fear to leave the house alone at our age,” Lily Stout said. “Children are the future and they need to be taken care of.”
Robin Wagner held a sign that said “Our children are not for sale” in large letters with a rainbow, and said she learned about the march from a Facebook group called Turn Away No Longer.
This group, with more than 1,500 members, is based in Anderson and “was created to bring awareness to everyone about the ever growing child exploitation business in the United States,” according to its page.
“It hits almost too close to home sometimes knowing that it’s happening right here in our own hometown and nobody’s seeing it,” Wagner said.
Stephanie Granger’s sign adorned a similar phrase to Wagner’s — #SaveOurChildren — as well as #WWG1WGA, which stands for “Where we go one, we go all.”
This hashtag is most commonly linked to QAnon, an internet movement centered around the unsubstantiated idea that President Donald Trump is battling a worldwide child sex trafficking ring. QAnon in recent months has attached itself to the #SaveOurChildren movement and hashtag to reach more people with its widely debunked beliefs.
Granger said she believes celebrities are harvesting adrenochrome, a chemical compound, for “youth and euphoria” from young children by torturing them, a belief promoted by the QAnon movement.
“I do believe that Donald Trump was chosen to clean out the swamp, because it’s a conscious awakening,” Granger said. “We the people are standing here because we know what’s going on. While the elite has everybody fighting over the color of skin, we’re fighting for the children.”
Dustin Stout said he and his family hoped to keep the focus of the march on children, and not conspiracy theories.
The march ended at Dickmann Town Center, where participants gathered and continued to chant slogans like “Save our children” and “Children are not for sale” for a few minutes before taking a group photo and dispersing. Sydney Stout was happy with how many people turned out, and hopes to do more marches in the future.
“I did not expect this many people,” Sydney Stout said. “I am very appreciative. I hope to get around to other counties (in Indiana) and host similar things.”