SOUTH BRONX — A group of Bronx students have waded into the debate about police-community relations by making a series of public service announcements in support of Black Lives Matter.
The students made multiple video PSAs over the summer about topics including school lunches and suicide, but several focused on the controversial civil rights group whose members have staged several protests against police tactics in New York City.
"What I like about Black Lives Matter is that it’s showing kids and adults of all ages what is happening to frustrate people," said 12-year-old Jamele Bell, who is going into seventh grade at P.S. 5, "and it raises awareness."
The program was meant to teach communication and production skills to students by having them create PSAs centered on messages of their own choosing.
William Moon, who supervised the PSA project at BronxWorks, said that he did not expect so many students taking part in the program to focus their videos on Black Lives Matter, as he did not know the group was already having so much of an impact on their lives.
"I was a little surprised because now they’re doing it kind of young. They did it as, like, 11- and 12-year-old kids," he said. "And just to know that that’s something that stands out to them at this age was really surprising."
He found this surprising in a good way, as it showed that they were becoming engaged with political and social movements at a very early age.
"They listen to the news. They’re reading up on it," he said. "They listen to their parents talk about it. They're aware of what’s going on."
Bell said he wanted his PSA project to focus on Black Lives Matter because of how frustrated he was by the amount of black people being killed in the country and his belief that the Black Lives Matter movement could help put an end to this.
"It could be a big thing," he said, "and if we all work together, all black people won’t be getting killed."
However, Bell added that the organization's views on police occasionally got too extreme for him.
"Sometimes they go a little too far blaming all police officers," he said. "Sometimes it’s not all police officers. Sometimes it’s just dirty cops."
He said the overall experience of making the videos was a lot of fun, and he particularly enjoyed helping out behind the scenes through directing and editing.
"I like switching stuff around, seeing what looks good together," he said, "and the music was pretty fun, too, so I’m going to major in music."