People from across the state came to Hilo to participate in a rally for missing keiki on Sunday afternoon.
Father’s Day inspired a rally for keiki that have gone missing this year.
“We saw this as something that needed to be done,” organizer Lopaka Milliora said. “There is child sex trafficking going on here on this island, in this community, and people aren’t aware of it.”
Kate Cruse came to the rally with her family to display her daughter’s name and picture to the community.
Cruse’s daughter, Aidyn Cruse, has been missing for about a month.
“I think law enforcement is doing what they can, but some are convinced she’s a runaway,” Cruse said. “There is no indication that she’s a runaway, and I’m hoping someone out there can find her and bring her home to me.”
Milliora organized the event to simply bring awareness to the public that there are active cases of kids that have been kidnapped or have runaway.
“In my opinion, I think police need more help and need the community to get more involved,” Milliora said. “I think possibly creating a task force would help in finding keiki and putting a stop to this.”
David Serai and Krystal Kaanoi flew in from Oahu just to be part of the demonstration.
“It’s worth it to come down here and show our support,” Serai said. “This is happening all over the place, and we need to take initiative to protect our keiki.”
Dozens of people participated with colorful signs bearing messages such as “keiki are not for sale” throughout the afternoon. Passing cars honked their horns or slowed down to see what was going on.
“I’m happy enough that one person showed up,” Milliora said. “This is so important to get out in the public because the keiki are our future.”
Last week, Lt. Sandor Finkey of the Hawaii Police Department’s Juvenile Aid Section told members of the County Council that most missing child reports are primarily runaways, most of whom are found and returned to their parents or guardians.
He also said that the only active missing child case on the island is that of Benny Rapoza, a 6-year-old nonverbal autistic child who went missing from a home in Keaukaha last December.
Email Kelsey Walling at firstname.lastname@example.org