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QAnon misinformation derails Arizona anti-trafficking organizations


Lucas Howard holds "Q sent me" sign at a "Save the Children" event in Phoenix.

PHOENIX – On a sweltering August day, hundreds of people gathered in a concrete plaza near the Arizona Capitol united by the seemingly noble cause of wanting to “Save the Children.”

Though, scattered in the crowd were signs reading “Q Sent Me” and “WWG1WGA” and paper cutouts of Jeffrey Epstein and Hillary and Bill Clinton that showed other motives for their activism: adherence to the belief that child sex trafficking is the work of a global cabal of pedophiles. 

“We as a people have all been blinded and lied to by the mainstream media, so we need to start keeping an open mind and searching within ourselves to better understand everything going on in the world,” said 21-year-old Lucas Howard, who held a sign that indicated he was a follower of the QAnon conspiracy.

Anti-trafficking advocates who have worked for years to get people to talk about the topic have over the past year seen it become widely discussed on social media and the subject of in-person rallies. The one in August in Phoenix was part of a string of #SaveTheChildren rallies nationwide.

But the newfound passion for the topic is fueled by false information spread under the QAnon umbrella. 

And as more Q followers remain captivated by unfounded tales of a global cabal ensnaring children to be raped and eaten, longtime anti-trafficking advocates fear there will be less concern and support to combat the all-too-real issue of women and girls being forced into sex trafficking or prostitution.

QAnon:Here’s what to know about the far-right conspiracy theory

‘Their whole point is to affect the election’ 

The subject came up in the September meeting of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s Arizona Human Trafficking Council, which is co-chaired by Cindy McCain, the widow of U.S. Sen. John McCain. Cindy McCain has worked for years to raise concerns about sex trafficking in Arizona and across the country.


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