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VIDEO: Brooklyn Teens Call for Peace in New Short Films on Gun Violence

CROWN HEIGHTS — Too many times the organizers at YO S.O.S., a local anti-violence group for teenagers, have seen fight videos — especially those involving young people — blow up online.

“Those somehow seem to catch fire and go viral with very little effort,” said Heather Day, the head of the group’s youth programs. “But we know there are just as many, or probably more, young people who are doing great things with their time.”

To showcase some of the positive things Brooklyn teenagers can do, the group — whose name stands for “Youth Organizing to Save Our Street” — has been working for months to create their own online video campaign, dubbed #6FeetAbove, with a non-violent message.

The result is three powerful videos — a short film, a music video and several recordings of original spoken word poetry — made with assistance from three arts nonprofits, Urban Art Beat, Urban Arts Partnership and Urban Word NYC.

In “One Shot,” five teens rap about choosing peace over gun violence, set between a chorus of “in my neighborhood, all I hear is gunshots / one shot, two shots, let’s stop.”

Day said many of the students on the project were trying rap or spoken word for the first time; one struggled to find a subject for the film until he witnessed a shooting of a 17-year-old boy in the neighborhood — then “channeled that into his verse.”

“They were stepping outside their comfort zone,” she said.

The S.O.S. group officially launched the #6FeetAbove campaign last week and plan to present the videos to schools and community groups within Crown Heights over the next several weeks to spread the word; the group is also planning to bring the videos to their annual festival on Kingston Avenue set for May 14. 

Online, the organization asks those who watch the videos to record their own anti-violent message or share their thoughts on the project’s message with the campaign’s hashtag.

“We really want to give people a way to use social media to interact positively and promote peace,” Day said.

For more information about the campaign, visit the YO S.O.S. website.