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.


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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.

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One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

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via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

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How we talk about Black Lives Matter protests across America is often a reflection of how we personally feel about the fight for racial equality itself. We're all biased toward our own preferences and a fractured news media hasn't helped things by skewing facts, emphasizing preferred narratives and neglecting important stories, oftentimes out of fear that they might alienate their increasingly partisan and entrenched audiences.

This has been painfully clear in how we report on and talk about the protests themselves. Are they organized by Antifa and angry mobs of BLM renegades hell bent on the destruction of everything wholesome about America? Or, are they entirely peaceful demonstrations in which only the law enforcement officers are the bad actors? The uncomfortable truth is that both extreme narratives ignore key facts. The overwhelming majority of protests have been peaceful.protests have been peaceful. The facts there are clear. And the police have also provoked acts of aggression against peaceful demonstrators, leading to injuries and unnecessary arrests. Yet, there have been glaring exceptions of vandalism, intimidation and violence in cities like Portland, Seattle, and most recently, Louisville. And while some go so far as to quite literally defend looting, that's a view far outside the mainstream of nearly all Americans across various age, racial and cultural demographics.

But what if we step away from the larger philosophical debate and narrow things down to one very important fact: the vast majority of those stirring division at protests are white.

And if you don't believe me, just listen to Durham, North Carolina's mayor and what he had to say about how white people are "hijacking" Breonna Taylor's legacy and transforming a movement that has suddenly split Americans after having near unanimous support just a few months ago.


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