Re: A March for Black Youth Leads to Rising Tensions

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Posted by TRUTH SEEKER on December 21, 19100 at 12:02:43:

In Reply to: A March for Black Youth Leads to Rising Tensions posted by Patrick Saunders on August 05, 1998 at 23:32:52:

: A March for Black Youth Leads to Rising Tensions


:   At this point, the Million Youth March being organized by a former Nation of
: Islam official and scheduled to be held in New York City in September is only
: in the formative stage. But plans for the rally have already drawn concern,
: with city officials worried about the size of the march and some Jewish groups
: saying the event's organizers have a history of virulent anti-Semitism.

:   Organizers said the event was modeled after the Million Man March held in

: Washington in 1995 and was intended to promote strength and unity among young
: blacks.

:   The main organizer of the march, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, a former aide to
: Louis Farrakhan, the minister of the Nation of Islam, said state coordinators
: across the nation would bring busloads of young people from as far away as Los
: Angeles and Atlanta to participate.

:   Muhammad was dismissed as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam in 1994 after
: a speech in which he referred to Jews as "bloodsuckers" and made other
: inflammatory remarks against Roman Catholics, whites and homosexuals. Both the
: House and Senate passed resolutions condemning his 1993 speech at Kean College
: in Union, N.J.

:   He later founded the New Black Muslim Movement and the New Black Panther
: Party, both based in New York City. It is unclear how large Muhammad's
: following is and whether he can deliver the thousands of marchers he has
: promised.

:   Nevertheless, his militant pronouncements about the event -- like
: threatening to stage it in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, if the city continues to
: deny the group a permit to march in Harlem on Sept. 5 -- have alarmed many
: Jews, who have flooded the Mayor's office with hundreds of telephone calls in
: the last two weeks. They are concerned about the event and fear it will incite
: violence against Jewish businesses.

:   "Khalid Muhammad should be held responsible for his speech," said Michoel
: Chazan, a spokesman for the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council in
: Brooklyn, noting the tensions between blacks and Hasidic Jews in his community
: that lingered after racial violence there in 1991. "If he gets heated up and
: people do criminal acts, they should be dealt with appropriately."

:   Muhammad said he envisioned a rally that would include jazz, hip-hop and rap
: music and other entertainment, interspersed with speeches from prominent black
: Americans. He has invited Puff Daddy and Ice Cube to perform, and Farrakhan
: and the Rev. Al Sharpton to speak. It was not known whether any had responded
: to the invitation.

:   The focus, Muhammad said, is to "hear from, to support and guide black youth
: and young people."

:   But Muhammad has recently changed his uplifting tone.

:   He said the city's refusal to grant a permit for the rally in Harlem, along
: 37 blocks of Malcolm X Boulevard between 147th Street and Central Park North,
: was "a slap in the face."

:   City officials, fearing a traffic nightmare, have offered two other
: locations that they said could accommodate large crowds: Randalls Island and
: Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, sites that Muhammad called "totally
: unacceptable."

:   Last Thursday, in discussing the city's denial of a permit to march in
: Harlem, Muhammad said he would "take Eastern Parkway," the main thoroughfare
: in Crown Heights and the site of black-Jewish clashes in 1991.

:   "This will be a direct confrontation with the Jews of that area who have
: misused and abused our people in Brooklyn and in Crown Heights for so long,"
: he said.

:   Some black leaders say Muhammad's oratory is only undermining whatever noble
: goals the march might have. The Manhattan Borough President, C. Virginia
: Fields, said she was currently working with community leaders in Harlem to
: determine whether holding the march in that area would be feasible.

:   "I certainly support the right of people to march in a peaceful manner and
: we are trying to insure that there is a safe and secure place for the march to
: occur," she said. "But I don't condone those remarks and don't think it is
: necessary for that type of rhetoric connected to what could be a peaceful
: event."

:   She said that Muhammad's comments could alienate potential supporters in
: Harlem and other black neighborhoods, including Sharpton, the Rev. Calvin O.
: Butts 3d, and Councilman Bill Perkins.

:   On Friday, Colleen Roche, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani,
: declined to comment on Muhammad's latest remarks. But in a news conference
: more than a week ago, Mayor Giuliani warned that if marchers "do something
: illegal, they will be dealt with."

:   A city official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Giuliani
: administration was still open to talking with Muhammad about other potential
: march locations, but that it became tougher to negotiate as the rhetoric
: escalated.

:   The official said that Muhammad had not asked for an additional meeting
: after the city canceled one two weeks ago. Instead, he has gone on the
: offensive.

:   This has concerned many local Jewish groups, who fear that this war of words
: could escalate to violence at the rally.

:   Michael Miller, the head of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which is
: an umbrella organization of about 60 groups, said he believed that "any event
: that has as its leader Khalid Muhammad will not produce any positive net
: result."

: Tuesday, August 4, 1998
: Copyright 1998 The New York
: Times

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