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The Newark Anti-Violence Coalition has "humbly apologized"  for the behavior of its members during a rally in front of City Hall that devolved into fights just before Christmas.

"The extremely challenging quest for peace in Newark’s streets suffered a ‘black eye’ when a press conference on this painful issue on City Hall steps degenerated into the physical violence we all seek to prevent," said the NAVC in its statement posted to its Facebook page.

Apologies were offered to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, those who witnessed the incident and young people the group said "need a much better example out of all us on how not to let disagreement spiral so quickly, so destructively and so dangerously, into the senseless violence."

The statement offered praise for Baraka's accomplishments toward a shared goal of getting violence off the streets.

"Let the record reflect that this mayor has already displayed a hands on effort in two short years that dwarfs what former mayors Gibson, James and Booker executed during each of their entire tenures," wrote the NAVC. Baraka created the NAVC.

The NAVC and a group led by Salaam Ismial, co-chair of the New Jersey Study Commission on Violence and Abdul Muhammad, a local activist, stared each other down before Baraka supporter Tyrone Barnes pushed Muhammad to the ground after grabbing him around the neck, leading to the fights.

Barnes told NJ Advance Media that during the incident he was only trying to keep things from getting how of hand, and was concerned that Muhammad was going to hit Donna Jackson, another activist at the rally.

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