Just as I suspected, a viral YouTube video uploaded on Sunday of an alleged New York City police officer profiling two Muslim men has been exposed as a fake. The video was presented as genuine by several news outlets, including The Huffington Post, International Business Times, and Mirror Online. On Monday, the NYPD said that video was "under internal review," and on Tuesday morning, The Smoking Gun spoke with two NYPD sources who said the video was staged. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the video bloggers -- Adam Saleh and Sheikh Akbar, who did not respond to our requests for a comment -- changed the video's description and said it was "a dramatization." They tried to justify their deceitful behavior.
Here's the original description of the video:
"Wewere filming another video for our channel with our cultural clothing but we kept getting followed by Police. So, we decided to film this social experiment on racial profiling."
And now it says,
"This video is a Dramatization of previous events that occurred with us in our tradition clothing while filming in NYC. This video is not against the NYPD, it's just an example of what we have to go through sometimes when filming in NYC. This is to raise awareness for Racial Profiling."
There's no doubt that racial minorities and people who wear traditional clothing from certain countries, cultures, or religions, get unnecessary crap from police sometimes, but to present this video as being authentic is unconscionable. Worse, they're trying to make it seem like it's no big deal after they've been caught. Here's their video:
One of the red flags in this video is that the officer's face has been blurred, despite the fact that it's legal to film police in public. This would seem to indicate the two wanted to thwart potential skeptics. Another weird aspect of this is that after detaining the two men, the "officer" turns his back to one of them, as he searches the other for weapons and contraband. Also, the "officer's" voice sounds like a contrived Long Island accent.
As The Smoking Gunreported, "An NYPD source who last night viewed the clip at TSG’s request said that an officer from the local police precinct (the 110th in nearby Elmhurst) would not be standing patrol by himself on a deserted street in the middle of the day." He also questioned the "officer's" frisking method. A retired NYPD detective, who also reviewed the video, called it an "obvious hoax" meant to "smear" the department.
Ironically, the name of Saleh's and Akbar's extremely low-budget production outfit is called TrueStoryUSA.