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Members Of New Black Panther Group March Near Duke

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DURHAM, N.C. — A rally was held near Duke University in response to the recent lacrosse rape investigation. The group organizing the event is causing some controversy.

The New Black Panthers joined with community leaders at an entrance to the Duke University campus Monday morning. After speaking to reporters, they tried to gain access to the campus at Campus Drive. Malik Shabazz, the group's national director, says protesters were seeking to humbly and silently walk through campus and not cause any disruption.

The group was met by Duke police, and its director, Robert Dean Jr. One member of the group asked Dean if he represented the community or Duke University. Dean, who is black, replied that he represents law and order.

The group plans to march to the house where the alleged rape occurred.

Shabazz said the community has eight demands, among them a trial and conviction for the defendants in the case and that the expulsion from school of the students and others involved.

The accuser's mother in the case told WRAL that family members did not ask the group to come to Durham, and they do not want their help. Some allege the New Black Panthers Party is a separatist group and has come to the area to exploit the situation to their advantage.

"What they do is come into a community and exploit the pain," said UNC associate professor Michael Waltman.

Waltman pointed out that some such organizations use community controversy for recruitment and to create division.

Bishop John Bennett, of the Church of the Apostolic Revival, said those tactics have no place here. Although members of his church recently protested outside the Buchanan house, he said their call was for arrests, not racial divide.

"I don't want to participate in anything that will cause any kind of racial tension at a time when I should be a person of peace," he said.