The first six months of 2018 saw fewer shootings in New York City than in the same period last year, but 416 people still ended up hit by bullets between the first of January and the end of June. And of course, the citywide picture of calm didn’t reflect what went on in some neighborhoods. In the Bronx’s 41st Precinct, the number of shooting incidence has more than doubled so far this year, from three to seven.
Seven is still a low number compared with the violent toll of years past. But as a new campaign of radio announcements by the city’s Crisis Management System—a violence interruption effort launched by Mayor de Blasio and the Council in 2014—makes clear, every single shooting has devastating impact.
Kiara, whose brother was shot as he sat in a car and died 18 days later, tells listeners, “Since then my life has never been the same.” Mike, whose son was shot and killed several years ago, says, “My family and I are still in pain.”
According to a city spokesperson, the ads are shaped by the firm ideas42, which does research on behavioral economics. In the spots, the message that violence is deeply damaging is linked to themes of identity and empowerment. “We are not defined by violence,” says one speaker, while another reminds listeners, “Your life belongs to you.” Kiara says, “This is our neighborhood. We have to protect it. Don’t let guns define who we are.” At times, the message is for listeners to help “co-produce” peace on their block.