Slavery still exists. In fact, there are more slaves today than any time in history, even during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery — the illegal buying and selling of people.

While many may not be aware of these issues, the U.S. Department of Justice has identified the top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions in the country, and that list includes both New York City and Long Island.

Only a few years ago, it was reported that a Patchogue man was sentenced to 60 years in prison after operating a sex trafficking ring in Ronkonkoma and Farmingville.

Only a few weeks ago, news reports stated that a tourist in Central Park was approached and offered an 11-year-old boy for sex.

Washington Post: This map shows where the world’s 30 million slaves live

Just this week, the county court in Riverhead began the trial of a Lindenhurst man on sex trafficking and other charges. Officials said that a chainsaw had been used, as well as torture with a Taser gun and beatings with a hammer, to terrorize a teenager and other women, forcing them into prostitution. 

It is important to inform and educate the Long Island community about these issues, and that is why Long Island Against Trafficking (LIAT) was formed. The 100 percent volunteer coalition, focused on awareness and prevention, will host a benefit this Sunday, May 22, from 1-6 p.m. at 89 North Music Venue.

Sponsored by Empire National Bank, JusticeJam is one-day music and arts fundraiser.

“The arts have the power to start conversations we might not otherwise have,” said Ed Adams, who serves as the chairman of Long Island Against Trafficking, “to circumvent politics and ideology, and bring us together to shine a light on dark topics that we otherwise don’t want to see.”

All those interested in enjoying amazing music, live art and advancing social justice are invited to attend.

Musicians will include folk singer-songwriter Emily Lazio at 1p.m., followed by the local funk-rock jam band Soundswell at 2 p.m.

The Director of Human Trafficking from The Safe Center LI will speak at 3 p.m.

HI DEF, a party band that performs annually at Alive After Five, will hit the stage at 3:15 p.m. Closing the event, funk band Ladies Drink Free will perform at 4:30 p.m.

Trays of food have been donated for the event. Throughout the day, poets from The Muse Exchange will share their work in between music sets, and live artists will create pieces to raffle off.

Local restaurants and businesses have also donated gift certificates towards raffle prizes.

General admission is $20, and children 12 and under are $10. Tickets can be purchased at justicejam.org or at the door.

Proceeds will benefit human trafficking prevention efforts through LIAT, as well as programs and services provided to child and adult trafficking victims at The Safe Center.

The Long Island community is encouraged to stay informed and come together through music and the arts to fight human trafficking on our island.

Long Island Against Trafficking courtesy photo by Noelle D’Arrigo