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Rally against violence planned for Merrick Boulevard

Hundreds of people whose families have been touched by violence were expected to fill Merrick Boulevard this weekend at an anti-violence rally.

Hands Across Jamaica, scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, is aimed at bringing the community together with victims of violence to show that everyone is affected by these acts, including rape, murder, abuse and assault, said Sugar, the event organizer, who only uses her nickname instead of her given name.

"We want to support families that were victimized and also the victims," said Sugar. "We cry with you. We mourn with you. Let us bring it out and let them see it's not one or two, but it's a multitude of people that have been touched by violence."

The event is to feature a procession of victims and their families on Merrick Boulevard from Liberty Avenue to Linden Boulevard, led by a hearse to represent those who have been killed, Sugar said. At noon, the processions will stop and participants will join hands, she said.

"We're going to stop and hold hands," Sugar said. "Within that time frame there should be no violent acts. If you're holding hands you can't commit violence."

The idea for Hands Across Jamaica had been in the back of Sugar's mind for years, but she only began to organize the event last fall, she said. The strongest motivating factor came when she met Amanda Clarke, a Laurelton mother who was searching for her 28-year-old son just after Thanksgiving, only to find him dead in the trunk of his car. Michael Clarke, a freelance WNBC-TV news cameraman was discovered by his mother in his Mercedes Benz in Jamaica with a gunshot wound to his head.

"It touched me so much, I said 'I am definitely doing this,'" Sugar said. "She's such a strong woman, I said 'we have to do something.'"

Amanda Clarke and Geoffrey Davis, brother of Brooklyn Councilman James Davis, who was shot in City Hall last month, were expected to participate in the event, Sugar said.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) were scheduled to join the procession, she said.

Sugar also invited the family of Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, the disc jockey behind pioneering rappers Run-DMC who was killed last year in his Jamaica recording studio, but she had not heard if they would attend, she said.

"We need to let people know it's not just the big artists or the small artists who are affected," she said. "It's ordinary people who are affected."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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