During the Google Zeitgeist I had the humbling opportunity to shoot interviews with a series of ‘Formers’ for Google and YouTube.
Violent extremism is a challenge faced by every geography and demographic. Society focuses on the differences between these groups – their religion, their geography, their ideology, or their ethnicity – but ignore the similarities, particularly those facing youths at risk from radicalisation. The Formers are a group of former extremists and activists who all share a mission in initiating a global conversation on how best to understand and prevent young people from becoming radicalised and how to de-radicalise others who are currently engaged in violent extremism:
TJ Leyden joined a neo-nazi skinhead gang after his parents divorced. The racists there were the only people who accepted his anger. TJ talks about the violence that drove him into the movement, and how his children eventually got him out:
The violence Maajid Nawaz experienced as a child motivated him to join the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Maajid discusses his progression from extremist to positive activist while in prison, and the power of people and governments to counter violent movements:
Paul Carrillo’s father hit him as a child, and his early encounters with violence made it easy for him to join a gang. Getting out was much harder. Paul talks about how his own hopes as a parent helped change his life: