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Prayer march scheduled as riot response

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A prayer march will be held Saturday in North Toledo as a healing response to a canceled neo-Nazi march that sparked a riot last month.

Healing, unity, and reconciliation between economic and ethnic groups are three goals for the Prayer March for Reconciliation, said the Rev. Will Stuart of Nu-Vizion Christian Fellowship of the United Church of Christ.

"We will go through the neighborhood, praying over areas that have been injured in light of the events of [Oct.] 15th and because of the economy," he said.

Pastor Stuart said 100 to 200 people are expected to attend the prayer march, which gathers at 10:30 a.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 2934 Stickney Ave. It will start at 11 a.m., and is expected to conclude about noon at Wesley United with a community worship event that will include food, music, prayer, and speakers.

At least a dozen members of the North End Ministries Alliance - including church and social service organizations and groups that oversee the welfare of youth - are involved in the prayer march, Mr. Stuart said.

He said participants will walk on the sidewalk, and every channel of city government was notified of the event.

Pastor Stuart said nothing has been organized for Dec. 10, the day the neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Movement, plans a return to the city.

"We will encourage people to go home or to church and pray," he said.

The neo-Nazi group said it plans to hold a rally on the steps in front of Government Center. They will protest the handling by police and the city of the group and its planned march last month.

Police Chief Mike Navarre said yesterday that he spoke with Mark Martin, the movement's Ohio unit leader, who confirmed that the group is coming at 2 p.m. Dec. 10, not noon as reported by group spokesman Bill White.

The chief said police are working with the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Lucas County sheriff's office on a response plan. The property manager for Government Center, which is a state-owned building, said a permit for the rally is not needed.

City and police officials said they have legal and police response strategies in place. Toledo Law Director Barb Herring said she will not and cannot discuss those strategies. "Any plans are highly privileged," she said. "Our entire strategy is that we're not going to discuss it."

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