When 17-year-old New York City resident Alvin faced repeated harassment from police, he took matters into his own hands. He secretly recorded his encounter with two police officers who stopped him because he looked “suspicious.” What makes matters worse was that Alvin claimed that he was had been stopped two blocks away just minutes before.
After the officers start harassing him because he won’t stop looking at them, Alvin asks the officers, who threatened violence if he didn’t stop asking questions, “What am I getting arrested for?”
One of the officers harshly responds: “For being a fucking mutt! You know that!?”
The dialogue is featured in The Nation magazine’s compelling YouTube video about the New York Police Department’s polarizing crime prevention tactics, and is titled “The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop-And-Frisk Policy.” The stop-and-frisk policies touted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have disproportionately targeted black and Latino youth, and critics have argued that it enforces racial profiling. Alvin’s encounter with police last year is the only known recording of a stop-and-frisk incident in New York City.
The short documentary also shows how police officers are facing weighted pressures if they don’t meet stop-and-frisk quotas. NYPD officers are subject to punishment and are prevented from earning a promotion if they don’t adhere to this policy. Officers will go to great lengths to meet those quotas, going so far as to even harass innocent bystanders and falsifying documents.
“The Hunted and the Hated” so far is garnering much buzz on YouTube and is an ideal example of how YouTube is becoming a great platform for exposing social problems. Other sites with a knack for investigative journalism and political tendencies such as Mother Jones have used YouTube to show groundbreaking news such as the Mitt Romney “47 percent” controversy. Even YouTube has original channels dedicated to investigative journalism, like Witness.
The need for compelling stories that investigate government problems and society’s woes are greater than ever, and YouTube is helping magazines, news agencies and independent filmmakers get their points across.