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Minister seeks human chain to cut links to drug violence


To protest the city's soaring murder rate, a local minister is seeking volunteers for a human chain to stretch through drug-infested neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore.

The chain would extend from the intersection of East North Avenue and Milton Street to Hilton Avenue and West North Avenue -- 5.5 miles. The Rev. Willie E. Ray, the head of Save Another Youth Inc., said the event would be held as a protest against drug-related violence.

Ray said the human chain would form July 28 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Two previous attempts to form human chains from Milton Street to Hilton Street have been unsuccessful, Ray said.

Last year 305 people were slain in the city, and there are indications the figure could go higher this year. So far, 146 people have been murdered, compared with 133 at this time last year. Many of the killings have been drug-related, police say.

Ray said he expects concern about the high murder rate to cause many as 10,000 people, including church and community groups, fraternities and sororities, Boy Scouts and business leaders, to turn out for this year's event.

"We're not going to tolerate drugs and violence in our community," Ray said.

Save Another Youth is an organization that provides youths with role models and educates them about alternatives to street life, so they will not end up in prison or as murder statistics, Ray said.

Erich March, a businessman who works with the group, said the community should not count on police to battle the problem of drugs and violence alone.

"It's not a police problem," March said. "It's a community problem. It's time we told the drug dealers that their time is over. And tell the people who have guns to lay them down to make the community safe for our elderly and our young."

Councilman Lawrence A. Bell 3rd, D-4th, praised the group's efforts, saying that citizens throughout Baltimore must unite if they want to rid the city of a common problem.

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