Southeast Queens residents, business leaders and community activists marched down the streets of Liberty Avenue Saturday to send a message to two sexual predators who have been attacking women in the area.
Nearly 40 people joined the march from South Ozone Park to the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, capturing the attention of pedestrians and motorists who gazed at their homemade signs and chants for justice.
Ruben Wills, the founder of the group NY4LIFE Inc., which organized the rally, said it was needed to keep the community on alert about the ongoing problem.
"We're concerned because this is the time when kids go back to school, the days are getting darker and it's easier to prey on the innocent," he said.
Police are looking for two men who combined have assaulted 13 women in Jamaica, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans, five of which took place between July and August.
One suspect, who has been linked to at least eight sexual assaults between Nov. 9 and July 9, is described as a black man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a bandana featuring dollar bills that covered his face. He may have a tattoo of the letter "D" on his inner right wrist.
A second predator is described as a black man between 19 and 23, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a medium build and close-cut black hair. He has been connected to at least four sexual assaults and one physical assault in southeast Queens between July 10 and Aug. 1.
Two $12,000 rewards have been offered for information leading to their arrests.
Although no reported assaults have occurred in the area for more than a month, Wills urged the community to take precautions. St. Albans resident Marcia Thompson, 38, who participated in the march, said it was a way for women like herself to fight back.
"When the rapists see this ... they'll know that we mean business," she said.
A special task force has been created to hunt the sexual predators, but Wills said the community should play a role, too.
He said community block watches, by groups such as the SUV club Maxxium Strength, will complement the investigation and possibly help catch the men.
"I want them to understand the community is unified," Wills said, referring to the predators.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@t
©2008 Community News Group
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