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JESSE JACKSON TO LEAD HAMLET MEMORIAL MARCH
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JESSE JACKSON TO LEAD HAMLET MEMORIAL MARCH

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson is scheduled to return to Hamlet today to lead a memorial march for victims of the Sept. 3 plant fire that killed 25 and injured 56.

Later this month in Hamlet, work-place safety issues will be debated by residents, labor advocates and state officials. The discussion will be recorded and will air later on the cable television network C-SPAN.The NAACP, labor and civic groups, Jackson's Rainbow Coalition and other groups are organizing the 3 p.m. march. The groups have formed a coalition known as Citizens Against Repulsive Environment.

CARE flyers state that the march is to protest the deaths and to demand that Imperial Foods president Emmett Roe be brought to justice.

The march also aims to focus attention on work-place safety and the rights of workers to organize.

The fire at the Hamlet plant is the state's worst industrial accident on record. It began when flames from frying equipment ignited oil leaking from a broken hydraulic line.

The fire sent thick black smoke through the plant, and authorities said some workers were trapped inside because exits were locked or blocked. The 11-year-old plant never was inspected by state officials.

A criminal investigation into the tragedy continues.

Imperial Food Products announced earlier this month that the Hamlet plant would not reopen. The Atlanta-based company also closed its Cumming, Ga., plant.

The work-place safety debate will be held Oct. 27 at Fairview Heights School in Hamlet, according to The News & Observer of Raleigh.

Panelists will include Hamlet Mayor Abbie Covington; Charles Cromer, legislative counsel for Gov. James G. Martin; Donna Bazemore, an advocate for poultry workers; and state Labor Commissioner John C. Brooks or a representative of his agency. Victims of the fire, plant employees and others will be invited to participate from the audience.

The program will air on C-SPAN's ``Close Up America' Nov. 4 and, on C-Span II, Nov. 8.

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