Members of the Kitimat community are holding a rally on September 9 to help raise awareness about child trafficking and pedophilia, both around the world and in Kitimat, itself.
Raelyn MacCulloch, one of the event’s organizers, said she is part of a Facebook group that aims to disclose the identities of alleged pedophiles in the Kitimat area.
“I feel, as do a lot of people, we have the right to know, especially if we have young kids,” MacCulloch said. “We should know if our children are working in the same area or block as someone who molests children.”
MacCulloch said she found out about #SavetheChildren rallies that were happening worldwide, to raise awareness about child trafficking, and decided she wanted to host one in Kitimat. However, she added that a lot of the response to the rally, as well as to people who have posted names and faces of alleged traffickers and molesters on Facebook or in their Facebook group, has been negative, and many of the posts have been forcibly removed.
“All I’ve seen is people getting shut down by trying to do something good for saving our kids,” MacCulloch said. “Nothing is on our side for protecting our kids.”
One of the reasons the response has been negative is because of the recent connection between #SavetheChildren and the conspiracy theory group, QAnon, which MacCulloch said their rally is in no way related to.
QAnon is the umbrella name for a wide set of internet conspiracy theories that started in 2017 with an anonymous post by a user who called themselves “Q”. The theories allege that the world is run by a secret group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against U.S. President Donald Trump, while also operating a global child sex-trafficking ring. Many of them also believe that, along with molesting children, members of this group kill and eat their child victims, to extract a ‘life-extending chemical’ from their blood.
QAnon members believe many top Democrats and celebrities, including Hillary Clinton, former U.S. President Barack Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, and Oprah, are part of this group.
#SavetheChildren started as a hashtag used for fundraising by a legitimate anti-child-trafficking organization, but has since been hijacked by QAnon to be used as a recruiting tactic.
Essentially, QAnon has been using the hashtag on posts with false and exaggerated claims about child trafficking, in the hopes of attracting the attention of a new audience — worried parents being their key target.
From there, they attempt to steer the conversation to QAnon talking points — such as saying that the reason children are being trafficked is because the international group of child-trafficking leaders wants to harvest their blood to get the life-extending chemicals inside them.
This tactic has been causing issues for legitimate anti-child-trafficking groups, who have had to deal with QAnon conspiracy theories running rampant and clogging up their hotlines.
As well, as social media has filled up with the QAnon groups and posts, Save the Children, a legitimate organization that works to provide humanitarian aid to children, issued a statement on Twitter distancing themselves from the movement and the hashtag.
MacCulloch said that she briefly read about the QAnon movement and its connection to #SavetheChildren, which is why they modified the hashtag for the Kitimat rally.
“I read about it…and that’s why we changed it to #SaveOurChildren, so people know it’s not connected to that group,” MacCulloch said.
However, there were still people who felt that they should change the hashtag even more, to further distance themselves from the QAnon group and show that they were truly holding the rally to raise awareness about child trafficking.
“I am in total agreement with your cause, child or any sex trafficking needs to be stopped as does abuse,” Ralph Kerman wrote in a comment on a Facebook post about the rally. “Your # is what bothers me. [QAnon] are spreaders of fear and misinformation or conspiracy theories, whatever your wish to label it…By posting your #, I believe you have opened yourself to much more misinformation in the future.”
The rally will be taking place in the upper City Centre Mall parking lot in Kitimat from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 9. Visit the ‘#SaveOurChildren Rally Kitimat’ Facebook page for more information about the event.