Let the Oppressed Go Free is a bronze sculpture created by world-renowned artist, Timothy Schmalz, that depicts human trafficking slaves being released from capivity in order to bring attention to this societal issue. The sculpture contains 100 figures representing the different faces of human trafficking including sex exploitation, forced labor, debt bondage and more. Men, women, and children can become victims of human trafficking, particularly those from vulnerable communities.
The artist found inspiration from Isaiah 58:6 where scripture talks about ‘setting free the oppressed’. The sculpture purposefully includes figures that span history to demonstrate that human trafficking is a generations-long issue in our society. It also showcases both genders, many races and all ages. The sculpture includes symbols and coins to represent the connection between human trafficking and money.
Schmalz commented, “Awareness is the first weapon to fight human trafficking.” He has stated that people suffering are hidden in our society and his intention is to bring awareness to the this tragedy that exists in every country across the world. “This sculpture is going to be an inconvenience,” Schmalz declared. “Human trafficking is a problem in our society that is often invisible.”
The Let the Oppressed Go Free sculpture is traveling the United States before it is permanently installed at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. Community West Foundation and the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking teamed up to bring the artwork to Cleveland to be displayed on Public Square until March.