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Anti-rap rally crushes explicit music with steamroller

NEW YORK -- An outspoken Harlem minister used a steamroller instead of the pulpit Saturday to fight explicit rap music lyrics, despite efforts by a small group of counterprotesters to stand in the way.

The Rev. Calvin Butts III and between 200 and 300 supporters at the Abyssinian Baptist Church denounced the music, mostly by black artists, as hurting the black community.

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'You don't have to degrade our women. You don't have to dehumanize our race. You don't have to use violent and vulgar language,' Butts said at an emotional rally inside the 186-year-old, 5,000-member Harlem church.

Outside on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, the crowd followed a steamroller as it crushed a pile of rap tapes and CDs deemed offensive.

A small crowd of rap musicians and supporters, led by an artist called 'Preacher Earl, the Hip Hop Pastor,' tried to stop what they said was a mechanical bookburning. They stood briefly between the recordings and the steamrolller.

'Unlike the Nazis and a host of other misled souls throughout history who sought to stifle artistic expression through book burning and oppression,' said the rapper, 'concentrate on attacking the elements which have brought about negative attitudes and images, not the messengers.'

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The steamroller crunched ahead, while police moved in between the two crowds. No injuries were reported.

The remnants of the recordings were brought to the Sony Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.

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