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Mayor urges peace after Bell verdict

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The mayor met with clergy members and leaders, such as City Council members James Sanders (D-Laurelton), Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Thomas White (D-Jamaica) as well as state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica last Thursday to discuss how to handle the community's reaction to Judge Arthur Cooperman's decision. Although the mayor said he has no problem if the people of southeast Queens protest the verdict in the streets, he said he asked the leaders to tell their constituents and congregants to do so within the legal limits of the law."No matter what the decision is, I hope everyone acts in a dignified manner," he told reporters outside the church. "We have to do it in a way people expect us to do it."After talking with the leaders for more than 45 minutes at a closed-door lunch, Bloomberg said he was confident they would be able to help maintain order without silencing their opinions and beliefs on the issues."They serve as important voices of hope and we need their leadership and counsel in the weeks to come," the mayor said.Sanders, who said he hoped the judge would impose some form of punishment against Detectives Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper, applauded the mayor's visit and strategy. Sanders predicted that if "justice wasn't served," there would be a "peaceful but militant response" by New Yorkers, similar to the 50,000-person protest led by the Rev. Al Sharpton in Manhattan a month after the Nov. 25, 2006 shooting of Bell and his friends."People have the right to get their voices out. They have the right to shout and scream," he said.Bloomberg and the NYPD would not comment on specifics of a police response however sources close to the case said the judge planned his date for the verdict on concerns of security regarding possible riots. The police would be under tight constraints due to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to New York City.Sanders said he would not support any protester who used violence and said that those individuals would be arrested.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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