Selling Violence?

(WSVN) - We’ve all heard the term ‘sex sells,’ but what about violence? That’s what some say is happening in a video produced by a Miami company, marketing the mayhem of gang life to sell clothes. 7’s Omar Lewis has more.

The mean streets of the Pork ‘n’ Beans Projects in Liberty City are taking center stage in this gritty YouTube video called “In The Trenches.”

It was produced by 8&9 Manufacturing Company, which sells streetwear style clothes.

161109_streetwear_clothes_website

In the video, the men are wearing the 8&9 brand while talking about growing up in the projects.

Man in Video: “I got shot 13 times. Everybody know that.”

They talk about their scars and time behind bars.

Man in Video: “I did three years in prison for something I didn’t do.”

To date, the video has more than 16,000 hits.

Man in Video: “8&9. They ask us why we carrying these book bags. Let ’em know why y’all carrying them book bags.”

They are marketing the 8&9 brand in a shocking way.

Miami Police Detective Rick Martinez: “This is not really happening, is it?”

Miami Police Detective Rick Martinez
Miami Police Detective Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is a detective with the City of Miami Gangs Unit.

Detective Rick Martinez: “This is a full-blown AK-47 coming out of a backpack. To carry them the way they were carrying is totally illegal.”

But to make an arrest, someone would have had to call them the day the video was shot.

Detective Rick Martinez: “Where’s the people? Didn’t we get a 911 call about this? What happened?”

8&9 was founded by New York native Ray Guilbault. He wouldn’t comment on camera, but told 7News in an email that the video “features candid clips of various people in their element,” and that “the Miami Police are well aware of our positive events, how we inspire the community and lead by example.” He goes on to say, “The video is one man’s perspective from one of the toughest neighborhoods in our country.”

Ray Guilbault
Ray Guilbault

Andresa Prater: “Root for violence. That’s what I get out of it.”

Andresa Prater is no stranger to street violence. Her daughter Michelle was killed in a shootout between rival gangs at an Overtown block party in 2009.

Also killed was 17-year-old Anthony Smith. In all, 12 people were shot that day.

Andresa Prater: “It was disgusting.”

Andresa was shocked by the video and by one of the men featured.

Andresa Prater: “The guy was Rodney Miller.”

Miller was arrested in 2009 for the murders of Michelle and Anthony. He spent four years in jail waiting for trial.

It’s talked about in the video.

Man in video: “Rodney just did four years for two bodies he didn’t do. Sat in jail for four years. Just ’cause police don’t like you, ’cause that’s what they do.”

Charges against Miller were eventually dropped because of problems with witness testimony.

Andresa Prater
Andresa Prater

Andresa Prater: “Unbelievable, and knowing that he was once charged for two murders, for my daughter and for Anthony, and then that lifestyle is still continuing. I didn’t see a promotion of a clothes line. I saw a promotion of violence.”

Detective Martinez says the video sends the wrong message to young customers.

Detective Rick Martinez: “When do you cross a line? That little kid that goes to elementary school says, ‘I want to buy a shirt like that because those are the guys that I look up to,’ and eventually, believe it or not, it may become an identifier.”

When it comes to marketing, a company can be successful by just getting people to talk about your product. But when it comes to selling violence, some believe it’s a dangerous way to do business.

8&9 Manufacturing Company reached out to 7News on Wednesday, and they offered to host a future roundtable discussion with police and community leaders about what can be done to help address the violence in our inner city neighborhoods. Both Detective Rick and Andresa are open to the idea.

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