Hundreds of protests erupted across the country in recent weeks, purportedly to demand an end to child sex trafficking. From tiny communities such as Poteau, Oklahoma, to Los Angeles, Miami, Denver and other major cities, people stormed the streets, calling for the mass execution of pedophiles and even accusing various public figures of torturing, raping and enslaving children to harvest their blood.
Lurking at the helm of these so-called “Save Our Children” rallies is QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory movement that baselessly claims, with stunning and growing support, that President Donald Trump is secretly battling a “deep state” cabal of Democratic politicians and A-list celebrities who traffic children for sex.
Child sex trafficking is a dire problem: It happens in all 50 states, almost always at the hands of people the victims know and trust. But QAnon — in its virulent campaign to expose a supposed underground pedophilia ring run by the liberal elite — is exacerbating the very crisis it claims to be fighting. As the movement appropriates and sensationalizes the issue to recruit more followers into its conspiratorial web, legitimate anti-trafficking organizations are suffering significant collateral damage.