Prankk Bros vs Providence Police Officer

 

Alien Invasion Prank by the Freaky the Snowman Guys

Alien Invasion Prank by the Freaky the Snowman Guys

Jay Lichtenberger of Prankk Bros and RipFilms, best known for the Freaky the Scary Snowman pranks and videos asked me for my take on their latest Alien Invasion Prank and their run-in with the police. I’m a fan of Freaky the Scary Snowman and the guys seem to be pretty mindful about what they’re doing to make sure that everyone has a good time.

In their latest stunt, they have one of their guys dressed up as a giant alien who surprises people coming around the corner in Providence, Rhode Island.  They surprised a lot of people (but wouldn’t you be if you encountered a seven-foot tall person?) but everyone on the video seemed to enjoy it. I really appreciated that the alien was careful not to touch anyone initially. Look when he comes around the corner – his palms are open and his hands are up and away from the people.

The alien took a lot of pictures with people, including with someone’s baby at the request of the mother. He gave high fives and hugs, danced with people, and played with someone’s puppy. When the police rolled up, they acknowledged their risk of liability and that they were being careful to which the officer said, “Have fun.”

For at least one of their locations, they had permission from the business owner to carry on with their prank outside the place of business. Despite this permission, a different police officer ordered them to leave. Apparently this is the same officer who gave them a hard time about Freaky. I love how the Providence cop kicked them out but the Newport police officer thought it was hilarious and just watched from down the street.

What about the cop on the alien video who said he told them to stop twice in two days, but from two different locations? I think it’s reasonable for the guys to think that maybe they couldn’t be on public property doing a prank one day but think it might be ok to get permission from the business owner to do the same stunt a different day at the business’ location. If anything, it shows a desire to comply with the law.

The video shows the officer threatening to arrest the guys for failure to move, which sounds like failure to comply with an order from law enforcement, which is a crime. It was interesting that the officer did not cite any other laws that the guys could be accused of breaking. The video also didn’t show the officer say anything about receiving complaints. I wonder if the guys are acting completely within the laws and this officer just doesn’t like them.

I appreciate the other officer who suggested that the guys file a complaint against the officer with internal affairs at the police station, especially when he said, “Don’t let them knock you down either.” What these guys are doing is definitely a violation of social norms; but if it’s not a violation of any laws, leave them alone. If there is a violation, tell them so they know what not to do next time.

The RipFilm guys may want to give up on doing pranks in Providence if filing the complaint against the police officer doesn’t work out. But at least they know that Newport will welcome them with open arms.

If you want more information about how to stay out of troule while doing pranks, please check out my book Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.

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Comments

  1. “For at least one of their locations, they had permission from the business owner to carry on with their prank outside the place of business. ” That is completely irrelevant. If you look at the picture you can clearly see that he is standing on a public sidewalk. The business owner has no right to grant permission for activities to take place on public property. That right lies with the local entity having jurisdiction over that space (in most cases, a Board of Public Works) and persons in a public space are subject to local municipal laws, including those pertaining to loitering.
    K

    • Hey Karl – I was wondering about that too. I questioned whether he was on public property or private (i.e., where the property line actually was) and what control business owners get over the sidewalks in front of their establishments.

      • Well don’t get me wrong I think the pranks are hilarious! But in areas like this a sidewalk is usually part of the public right-of-way, just like a street. You can’t park an RV in the middle of the street and obstruct traffic and say “Oh well the owner of Side Pocket said it was ok if I camped here tonight so go pound sand!” Same applies to the sidewalk as it’s part of the pedestrian circulation system. It may not be used for moving cars, but many communities receive federal money for sidewalks reconstruction projects and those communities are required to adhere to ADA accessibility standards because it is a part of transportation. Now if it were a sidewalk that was actually on private property (say, a sidewalk coming from the street to the font of a building that was set back from the front property line) it’d be a completely different story.

        • I watched the video, I don’t know if you did, but the article was referring to a business that is not shown in the picture. The business gave them permission to do it right in front of it. The business is not shown in the picture.

        • I totally get and understand what you’re saying. I wondered if there was certain amount of the sidewalk that was either part of the private propety for the business or if they had rights over it – like some places have a front patio seating area or are allowed to put signs on the sidewalk advertising their businesses and maybe a provision like that would give the owners permission to say that these guys could hangout dressed as an alien or a snowman.

  2. Long live Freaky and the Alien! More PRANKS!

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