In the wake of the alleged gang rape of a seven-year-old girl, community leaders and activists have called to action the men of Trenton, New Jersey:
Dozens of men joined Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in an impromptu march on Saturday through the neighborhood where police say a 7-year-old girl was gang-raped.
The march followed an afternoon rally organized to spur discussion about violence committed against and by young people in urban communities.
Near the end of the rally, the founder of an organization that uses men to help keep youth out of trouble recruited men to march. Dennis Muhammad also challenged the men to create a community policing program similar to the Peace Keepers organization he founded. The group has chapters in New York City, Jersey City, N.J., and Wilmington, Del.
Simmons said Peace Keepers has had some success in his hometown of Queens, N.Y.
"We sit back sometimes and allow just a few bad eggs in our community to scare us off our own corners," Simmons told a standing-room only crowd at a church auditorium before the march. "I stood on (the) corner. I sold drugs. But I went back and saw what it felt like when we launched our Queens peacekeepers movement."
The crowd also was stirred by speeches from local dignitaries and hip-hop gospel songs sang by a choir.
Palmer, who initially said he did not plan to attend the rally, arrived shortly after the event began.
"I think it's a good beginning," Palmer said as he, Simmons and dozens of Trenton men marched through the neighborhood exciting residents watching from their porches. "The proof will be if we can get more men together in this and other sustaining activities."