Utah A.G.’s Office postpones ‘Freedom for the Children’ event because of questions about organizing group

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sean Reyes Candidate for Utah Attorney General Republican Primary joins candidate David Leavitt in a debate at KUED, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is postponing a child exploitation and human trafficking awareness rally it had planned for Saturday in Salt Lake City after questions were raised about one of the event’s organizers.

The office announced the decision Friday night, a little more than 12 hours before the Freedom for the Children event was scheduled to begin, citing “questions about association with other human trafficking events being held the same day.” It said the event wouldn’t take place for “several weeks” to “prevent public confusion with unassociated agendas and political causes.”

The office had promoted the event, which included a march and a slate of speakers, earlier Friday on its social media platforms.

On Twitter, it posted, “Join us in raising awareness for human trafficking and child exploitation tomorrow at 9AM at Liberty Park in SLC. Our office will join speakers in highlighting trauma-informed recovery, legislation, law enforcement roles, resources, and stories from survivors.”

But less than two hours after the tweet, the office was getting questions and responded, apparently trying to separate its event from the Save the Children movement, which recent news reports have linked to QAnon, a far-right — and unsubstantiated — conspiracy theory.

The office said its event wasn’t affiliated with that group, but another with a similar name and cause.

“We’ve been getting some questions about the event. This event is separate and NOT related to the Save the Children group. It is with Freedom for the Children. While Save the Children has similar events going on the same day, we and this event are not part of that movement,” the tweet read.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who has served since 2013, has made putting a stop to human trafficking his signature issue. His office held a similar event with the Operation Underground Railroad group on July 30, the World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

The office said Saturday’s event was a partnership between the AG’s office and reputable groups like 3Strands Global Foundation, members of the Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force, government officials, nonprofits and citizens.

“However, upon receiving further information, including careful investigation of citizen input, event organizers determined that there were too many questions about one of the partners,” according to the statement.