There's a viral video making the rounds that purports to show two men in Islamic garb being racially profiled by a New York City cop — but there's a problem: the clip, which has been marketed as an eye-opening example of NYPD malfeasance, is a fake, according to the Smoking Gun
Produced by Adam Saleh and Sheikh Akbar, the video was posted to YouTube Sunday and marketed on social media, but the Smoking Gun, among other critics, is dismissing it as "a staged production" and a "sham" — and part of a viral video series the filmmakers produce called "TrueStoryASA."
The central premise of the clip is that Saleh and Akbar — who, according to numerous outlets and uploads to their YouTube account, are known for making prank videos— were able to walk by a police officer in Queens while verbally and nearly physically fighting with one another without cop intervening or saying a word.
The two are seen casually clothed, wearing jeans and T-shirts as they walk by — an important detail considering what they allege happened next.
Image source: TrueStoryASA/YouTube
They pass the cop without incident, but when they return 20 minutes later and walk by the same policeman again — this time in robes, head coverings and "cultural clothing" — he intervenes in their spat.
"What's going on? What's going on here?" the cop asks the duo. "Why are you dressed like this?"
When Saleh and Akbar attempt to walk away, the policeman continues, "Don't walk away from me. I'm an officer of the law." Then, he forces them against a wall and frisks them.
The filmmakers waste no time in revealing their true identities and confronting the officer, essentially accusing him of racial profiling. And at the end of the video, Saleh and Akbar deliver a direct appeal to viewers, claiming that they want to bring discrimination to an end.
"What you just saw is what we always go through when we're filming with our cultural clothing on," Saleh said. "We just want to make racial profiling come to an end."
Seemingly marketed as an activist video of sorts, some critics have questions about the video's contents. For instance, upon first view, the dialogue in the video exchange with the cop seems a bit awkward, particularly the "officer of the law" line and the overt question about what the two are wearing.
But that's not the only curious issue.
"Oddly, the officer never bothers to remove the item to confirm that it is a phone and not a deadly weapon [during the frisk]. Also, the cop does not appear concerned that Saleh’s friend is hovering directly behind him," the Smoking Gun explains.
And, according to the outlet, at least two NYPD sources said the clip was staged. One source said that an NYPD officer wouldn't be standing by himself on 110th street in Queens — the location where the video was reportedly was filmed.
The source also poked fun at the frisking in the clip, claiming that the officer was the improper method. And another source told the website that it is an "obvious hoax."
While many supported and believed the clip to be authentic in the comments section on YouTube, others expressed skepticism.
"I wish that was a real cop. I wish this were a real video," wrote user SixStringSamurai.
And MrStinkez added: "I highly doubt this was real. The training in order to become a police officer hard and a cop acting like this would not get through. First of all, any cop would pull over someone who was fighting like in the first clip, secondly — a cop would not pull over someone who was just pushing eachother like in the second clip. And they would definitelly not ask 'Why are you wearing those clothes?'. I call bulls**t."
What do you think? Watch the video below:
While the Huffington Post called the clip "unverified" and noted that it is under NYPD review and could not immediately be substantiated, the outlet opened the piece by claiming that Saleh and Akbar "offered YouTube a small glimpse into the ugly world of racial profiling."
An email to a booking address listed on both filmmakers' Twitter profiles seeking comment has not been returned to TheBlaze.
(H/T: Smoking Gun)