MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is praising a Minneapolis program to reduce youth violence and pledged support from the Justice Department and plans to bring the program to a national scale.

Holder is calling reducing youth violence a “moral calling” and one of the most important tasks in shaping the nation’s future.

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He says children who are involved in violence show a tendency toward alcohol and drug abuse and emotional problems.

Holder spoke at the University of Minnesota on Friday in favor of the Youth Violence Prevention initiative.

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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says the program has led to a reduction in the numbers of youths involved in violent crime, including as victims.

Holder’s speech was frequently interrupted by anti-war protesters who say they have been unfairly targeted for investigation.

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