One of the leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Charles Wade, was arrested on human trafficking and prostitution charges during an April sting operation in Maryland, according to multiple press reports. Wade, the co-founder of Operation Help (sometimes known as “Hush”) — an organization that provided clothing, food and shelter for #BlackLivesMatter activists protesting in Ferguson, Missouri — is accused of forcing a 17-year-old girl into prostitution.
The Daily Caller obtained a police report stating that Wade was picked up in a College Park police sting after cops responded to a backpage.com ad from a woman who claimed to be 23, offering sexual services at an area Howard Johnson hotel.
When police arrived and confronted the woman, who turned out to be 17, she identified Wade, who had been watching from the parking lot, as her “manager” named “CJ.” The police then arrested Wade who, according to the report, had rented the hotel room and was carrying three cell phones.
According to the police report, the woman told police that “CJ” knew she was underage and “wasn’t worried” because she’d turn 18 in a few months. She told investigators that she provided CJ with all of the money she made in her endeavors.
While #BlackLivesMatter claims to have no actual leadership, Wade has been cited numerous times as a top figure in the loose coalition of activists. His efforts in Ferguson (including ordering 40 pizzas for Baltimore protesters) received positive coverage from the Washington Post and POLITICO and he’s helped facilitate celebrity involvement in #BlackLivesMatter, working with A-listers like John Legend and wife Chrissy Tiegen (he’s also a former employee of Beyonce’s sister, Solange Knowles).
Wade issued a statement on Twitter Wednesday afternoon blaming “conservative trolls” for the unfairly spreading the story, which he claims is mostly false. He says that he was arrested because he was “too trusting.”
Wade’s statement says he was asked to house the woman, in accordance with the mission of his organization, which is why he bought her a hotel room, and that he didn’t know she would use it in an entrepreneurial fashion.
The police report seems to allege that Wade had more knowledge of his “temporary tenant’s” activities than he acknowledges. According to the arresting officer’s statement, it seems Wade was the one officers were texting with to set up the meeting at the hotel: “It was revealed that the Undercover Detective was texting the Defendant when he responded to the backpage ad. When there were clients/johns, the Defendant would leave the room.”
Wade told the Daily Caller that he is “confident” he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
This is Wade’s second arrest this year. He was arrested in January on grand theft charges. April 29th, just a few days after his arrest for sex trafficking, Wade entered into a “delayed prosecution” agreement on that charge.
The most disappointing part of this incident, for Wade at least, may be that it caused him to miss a #BlackLivesMatter event at the White House, to screen a movie celebrating the American Civil Rights movement.
Wade’s first court appearance related to this charge will be in early June.