COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Charles Wade, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and co-founder of Operation Help or Hush, a group that helps organize protests and social movements, has been charged in his arrest last month for human trafficking and prostitution.
Wade was arrested at a Howard Johnson Inn in Maryland on April 25. Police said he was staying in a motel room where he was allegedly pimping a 17-year-old girl, the Daily Caller reported.
His arrest was part of a sting operation in which an undercover officer responded to an ad for an encounter with a 23-year-old woman allegedly placed by Wade in an online forum frequently used by sex traffickers and prostitutes.
“Holla at me. Quick stay specials tonight and tomorrow. Independent. Fun and sexy. Text me to set up an appointment???????” the ad reads.
Investigators said the woman turned out to be only 17 years old, and called Wade her “manager.” She said Wade knew she was a minor but said “you only have 5 months left until you’re 18 so I’m not worried.”
She also said she gave all the money she earned to Wade, according to the Daily Caller’s report.
“Someone that we had just started temporarily housing was involved in activities in the temporary housing we obtained for them outside of my knowledge that caused me to be arrested after they were as the person who booked, signed for, provided ID for, and paid for the room,” Wade told the Daily Caller.
The police investigation suggests Wade was the person who communicated with the undercover officer via text message.
Wade issued a statement on Twitter regarding the charges.
“I was forced to make this statement before I was ready to because of ongoing efforts by Twitter ‘trolls’ to stop my work and the work of my organization,” he wrote.
“For the past two to three days, ‘trolls’ have been actively baiting conservative news outlets to report on my arrest, amongst other vindictive things that they are actively working on.”
Last year, the Washington Post included Wade in a profile of Black Lives Matter activists at the protests in Ferguson, Mo. after the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown.
Wade was again in a Washington Post story in December of 2014 when he helped model Chrissy Teigen and singer John Legend donate food to protesters marching after the death of Eric Garner in New York City.
Wade has also worked as a stylist for Solange Knowles, sister of pop star Beyonce. He was also invited by the White House to a film screening with other Black Lives Matter activists. Wade did not attend the event.
Wade faces seven counts, including felonies and human trafficking. The charges carry sentences of up to 25 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Wade posted bail of $25,000 on April 27. He has a court hearing set for June 3.