Photos by Andrew Hinderaker

Over 80 performers in 28 acts played to a packed house on Saturday at the S.O.S. annual “Stop Shooting, Start Living” Talent show held at PS 289. Singers, rappers, poets, and dancers of all genres flaunted their talents for a cheering audience of over 400 people. Photos of the performers can be seen here on Facebook, or here for those people not on Facebook.

Coordinated by Anthony Newerls and co-sponsored by the Brooklyn Blizzards, the S.O.S. Talent show event was free and open to the whole community. Throughout the event performers supported the S.O.S. message, with many sporting t-shirts that read “stop shooting start living” as their costumes for their step, praise, African, tap, and break dance performances. Several rap lyrics promoted anti-violence, including a little girl who called for other kids to “stop bullying,” and a neighborhood mother who rapped, “I’m tired of seeing shirts saying ‘rest in peace’… Peace, we need it in the hood. We got to fight for peace ‘cause it ain’t looking good.” Lyrics such as these received raucous applause from mothers, fathers, grandparents and children alike.

The audience remained in high spirits through the afternoon with the help of Sharon “Ife” Charles who MC’ed the three-hour event with flair. Sporting earrings that read “Stop Shooting, Start Living,” Charles, who worked for 12 years at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, said to the audience, “I am working on anti-violence for the whole city now, but Crown Heights is my community! This is my home!” Between performances Charles quizzed the crowd about the S.O.S. program, introducing the team on stage and coaching the crowd to call out, “S. O. S., Save Our Streets!” in unison.

When the performances wound to a close the S.O.S. team conducted a raffle to hand out prizes donated generously by Tech-serve, Denzil’s auto-driving school, Dr. Margaret DeCruz, The Brooklyn Children’s museum, and others. Among the fabulous prizes were a free massage, a bag of arts supplies, and most coveted, an iPad mini. The community left PS 289 on Saturday evening with S.O.S. giveaways in their hands, smiles on their faces, and messages of peace in their heads.