Posted by: vote4claxton | September 19, 2008

COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO SEXUAL ASSAULT PATTERN IN SOUTHEAST QUEENS

Residents walk for rape awareness
<B>Residents of all ages participated in Saturday’s march, all in the interest of keeping residents safe and aware of their surroundings.</B>
Residents of all ages participated in Saturday’s march, all in the interest of keeping residents safe and aware of their surroundings.
   While it’s been more than a month since either Queens rapist has made a known attack, some members of the community organized last weekend to make sure residents stay alert and aware as summer turns to autumn.
   On Saturday, Sept. 20, a group of community leaders and residents marched from South Ozone Park to Jamaica in the interest of keeping those neighborhoods on alert.
   “The main purpose was to keep the awareness going in the community, as we’re going back to school, with the nights coming quicker and staying longer, “ said Ruben Wills, one of the organizers. “We don’t want these creeps to feel that they have more of a target, that it’s open season on women.”
   Wills said that the march itself is only the beginning of a long sequence of events designed to make sure that residents all over southeast Queens cooperate with law enforcement officials in the interest of keeping women in the area safe.
   “Even though we don’t agree all the time with the police tactics, we still want to make sure that the men in the community work with law enforcement to show that we do have unity,” Wills added.
   In addition to the march, local truck and motorcycle clubs have agreed to participate in civilian patrols in many neighborhoods which have been victimized by the pair of rapists, both of whom have been at large in the community for nearly a year.
   Marquez Claxton, co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, was pleased with the walk Saturday and the community turnout.
   “As you can see by the response of the men and women who attended this preliminary step towards taking our community back through grassroot initiatives, we are not sleeping on our obligations and responsibilities,” he said. “We will assist our local law enforcement in whatever way we can towards the betterment of our community.”
   He said that during civilian patrols, clergy and group members — including members of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care — would be a presence in the community in cars and on foot, especially during evening hours in the fall as darkness begins to set in much earlier. As many as 40 cars a night would be patrolling large sections of Laurelton, Jamaica, St. Albans, and other communities where problems have been reported over the course of the past year.
   Wills pointed to the first all-community meeting on the attacks, which was held in January by state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica). At the time, three women had been attacked. Now, Wills said, more than 20 women say they have assaulted somewhere in southeast Queens, and the number of victims who haven’t stepped forward is likely much larger.
   At a Community Board 13 meeting on Monday, officers from the 13-member dedicated task force formed by the NYPD to catch the perpetrators reiterated the $12,000 reward which has been offered, and reminded people to be alert when walking to work or school.
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