Newark officials hope '24 Hours of Peace' will stem violence

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. -- Anti-violence advocates and community members are swarming a block in Newark's South Ward for 24 hours starting Friday evening with the hopes of creating a cease-fire against the city's spike in gun violence.

The "24 Hours of Peace" event began at 6 p.m. drew big crowds with hip-hop performances and public speakers. The event headlined by hip-hop artist Rakim is being held on Clinton Avenue between Bergen Street and Osborne Terrace, where five people were killed in a gang war last August, according to city officials.

Taking a cue from the populist Occupy Wall Street movement that swept many cities four years ago, Mayor Ras Baraka has led a series of 34 "Occupy the Block" rallies across the city this summer to involve community members in discussions of violence and policing.

Baraka said the rallies grew out of grassroots efforts in which residents would sit on drug corners to push away dealers and gang members.

Sixty people have been killed in Newark this year, including 50 by guns, according to Newark police Sgt. Ronald Glover. Shootings have increased almost 25 percent so far in 2015.

The event also included a family movie night, a community breakfast Saturday morning, and hip-hop yoga and Zumba.