1,600 police are assigned to Harlem youth rally Court order limits demonstration's scope

10,000 people expected

September 05, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- Intent on preventing any outbreaks of violence, the New York City Police Department intends to saturate the site of today's planned rally in Harlem with as many as 250 officers along each of the six blocks set aside for the event.

And, officials said, they will clear the streets promptly at the demonstration's court-ordered finish at 4 p.m., whether the event -- being billed as the Million Youth March -- has ended or not.

"I'm in charge," Police Commissioner Howard Safir declared on the eve of the rally being led by Khallid Abdul Muhammad, who has warned that he will bring gangs to the event.

While Safir refused to divulge specific security plans, a senior law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the police were preparing to station more than 1,600 officers at the rally and a nearly equal number in surrounding areas.

The large deployment is planned even through city officials now expect fewer than 10,000 participants to show up for the long-litigated rally, far fewer than even the 50,000 revised figure now offered by Muhammad.

After weeks of acrimonious dialogue in which Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani repeatedly denounced the rally as a "hate march," a federal appeals court on Tuesday cleared the way for the event but significantly curbed its scope.

What Muhammad originally envisioned as a 12-hour rally drawing 150,000 to 3 million people to a 29-block area was scaled back to four hours along six blocks.

Despite the court ruling, legal skirmishes over the march continued yesterday, with city Corporation Counsel Michael Hess releasing a letter accusing organizers of failing to secure contracts or permits to build a stage or install a sound system or arrange for electricity from Con Edison.

In addition, Hess said, the organizers were still broadcasting and distributing material asking participants to show up at 8 a.m.

The rally is set for noon to 4 p.m. on Malcolm X Boulevard from 118th Street to 124th Street. One lane is to be kept open with barricades as a corridor for ambulances and police and fire vehicles.

Pub Date: 9/05/98

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