To combat bad social media influence, city asks people to ‘Choose Wisdom’


ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Monday, we learned 114 teenagers have been arrested for stolen cars in Rochester. About half of them are going through family court. Rochester police arrested 137 adults for stolen cars. The total is 251 this year.

The mayor believes teenagers are influenced and pressured by social media that glorifies stolen-car videos. So the city got two filmmakers to make a video that tries to do the opposite.

“I want them to come away with that they have a voice,” Shabaka Ausar said when I asked him what he wants people to take away from his film.

Click here to watch the video:

Ausar and Amen Ptah made the film, called “Choose Wisdom.” That’s the motto inside the city’s Office of Violence Prevention.

The filmmakers went around Rochester talking to people about what they go through and what they’ve gone through.

“So I want people to say ‘I saw myself in that video. Hey, I’ve been a victim of violence or maybe I haven’t and I have a choice, I have an option to do something positive,’” Ausar said.

“The campaign slogan itself – which is Choose Wisdom — is profoundly important,” Ptah said.

Mayor Malik Evans played the video for the first time at City Hall on Monday morning.

Mayor Malik Evans: “I think that this is starting to plant the seeds of undermining the negative vibes we have in our community.”

I asked the filmmakers if one person in the video stood out to them.

Ausar picked Alvin X.

X cooks food for free at Cobbs Hill Park, and X stopped a fight when the cameras were there.

“I’m like ‘Holy moly,’” Ausar said. “So that lets me know that I knew Cobbs Hill was there but I didn’t know that there are people in our community who are not getting paid who are making sure our children can be safe.”

Ptah picked a father who said he had been shot four times before he chose wisdom.

“And that’s similar to my story. I’ve been a victim of gun violence. I got shot four times,” he said. “And here I am now with a master’s degree. I just graduated in May as a marriage and family therapist. So, it can happen if you choose wisdom.”

Shootings are down 27 percent from last year. People shot, down 28 percent. People killed by a gun, down 45 percent.

But in the last 14 days, 141 cars in the city have been stolen.

In his quarterly update on crime and crime prevention, the mayor called stolen cars “the main challenge.”

The crisis is very frustrating to people, and it is happening no matter what zip code you’re in.

However, the strategy that connects arrested teenagers with a probation officer within 24 hours has been up for six weeks. Of the 59 teenagers in the program, only three have been arrested again.

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