You Made This 17 Year-Old's Story So Big, Even A Federal Judge Noticed
If not, check out this post to refresh your memory.
Back in November 2012, we posted a video about Alvin Cruz, a then-17-year old Harlem native who recorded a disturbing incident while he was stopped, searched, and frisked by members of the NYPD.
Alvin's recording was the first known audio evidence of stop-and-frisk, a decades-long institutional police practice in New York City that, in effect, legalized (and even incentivized) racial profiling, especially of black and Latino people.
While we thought Alvin's story was outrageous and important, we weren't convinced that a 13-minute video about racial profiling could go viral.
Boy, were we wrong. By our count, the video's been viewed almost 5.5 million times. But that's not even the coolest part:
In August 2013, after years of citizen activism and organizing toward ending stop-and-frisk, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the program is unconstitutional. In her opinion, she cited Alvin's story and the original video it appeared in as "frequent and ongoing notice of troubling racial disparities in stops."
There are a lot of critics out there who think sharing a video on the Internet can't actually contribute to meaningful social change. While we're not making the argument that Alvin's story alone ended stop-and-frisk, we think this stands as pretty powerful evidence that seeing an unjust practice directly from the perspective of someone who bears its brunt is a good way to change hearts and minds — and, hell, occasionally some crappy laws too.