I frequently scour the Internet looking for what shows up about this area and what people are saying. On Friday evening I came across one of the most disturbing Youtube videos I have seen and it was made here in Toledo, most likely by a group on the East Side. Seeing the videos made me sick and wondered why people would do such a thing. I also have many questions about what are our obligations and what it all means. This post is an attempt to think this through.
First the videos:
The first video I found, seemed at first to be just a normal video about someone’s report on WTOL. The name bum fuct was strange, but no more than just a little bit into it I began to see it was more than just a boring video. You see a person making fun of the Toledo police, punching a girl in the chest, and what appears to be a guy and a girl vandalizing a car. The car does not appear to be their car just by where it is parked and how they are filming it.
Then it gets even more shocking when one of the people in the videos is seen to be apparently spray painting a homeless person sleeping on a bench (at 1:40).
Part of the video shows them vandalizing a sign and adding a letter to the sign to make it look like a bad word. I looked on Google street view and this building has the area of the sign painted over, so either this occurred before or after the Google camera took a photo.
At about 2 minutes, it shows one of the people urinating into a cup, then pouring it into a beer, then giving it to some unsuspecting person. After more research I am beginning to think this is also a homeless person.
The final part wraps it up with these people tossing a cup full of something on what appears to be another homeless person at the TARTA station downtown.
When I first saw the videos, I felt sick seeing it that someone would think that is entertainment. It is also quite stupid that they were videotaping themselves doing it and posting it on YouTube. Bum fuct could mean several things, so I decided to do more research on what I saw in the video and I noticed that the people who put together the video do have a tendency to be making fun of the homeless and abuse. See their myspace page:
It also becomes apparent that one of the people in the video is probably Larry Lanting, because he looks like the same person in the videos and you can see his myspace page at:
which happens to have the videos linked from his page.
But it does not stop there. I then found another video of the group peeing on homeless and videotaping the response. This also occurs at the downtown TARTA station.
That is just poor.
That video was uploaded in 2006, but the YouTube videos were added recently. If all of these were filmed in 06, the recent youtube postings shows that it was not a lapse of juvenile judgment, but something they are proud of as even evidenced by the posting on the myspace page.
It does not stop there. There was another Youtube video posted by the person who posted the original one. Update: According to Larry, he did not post on YouTube and is not a part of the group.
In the second video, (update the group who uploaded is different than the bum group) this group appears to be impersonating police officers on unsuspecting Toledoans, commanding them to do things and making allegations on behavior they have done, only to drive away. They have a spotlight and the suspects do not know what is going on and think it is the police. You can see the fear in some of the people's eyes who are being interrogated, and you wonder what you would do if you were out on the street and that happened to you. You also fret that if they were out to do something bad, the behavior of the victims are not very defensive. Quite low.
Warning: This video has some shocking behavior and scenes. It also has loud foul language and possibly some nudity.
You think this happens somewhere else? Nope right here in Toledo.
Video 1: Homeless abuse and other bad behavior
Video 2 Fake Police
Video 3 Peeing on Homeless
This person, group of people, has posted other videos of pushing over "porta potties" and attacking what appears to be an unsuspecting biker and maybe almost being caught.
So the tally for just these videos (this group) is:
And I don’t know enough to judge if anything they did to the homeless is against the law or not. But this is more than just a tally.
So where does this leave us? It brings up many questions.
What is our obligation when we see something like this? Is commenting or flagging content enough?
Youtube is a new medium and more and more people are posting this type of stuff. What are we as citizens supposed to do? If we witnessed this out our own window would we allow this?
Does the proud display of impersonating cops and abusing homeless hurt and encourage other behavior?
Should there be new virtual block watches where citizens also patrol the Internet and report suspicious online behavior?
When people are young, they do stupid stuff. Some of the stupid stuff that I have done, I would not like to continue to brag about. Which makes one question why someone would think that that behavior is funny enough to continue to highlight.
Do you think this is the only bad behavior caught? No, there are road races filmed in Toledo and the area posted on YouTube. There are some people taking photos of themselves launching fireworks, others in Toledo are posting videos of themselves painting graffiti and I have posted some video of fights at UT and in other parts of the area. So this is more than just an isolated incident and will be more than just this one time.
We recently heard about the group of Florida teens videotaping them beating up a Florida girl for the YouTube value (see: http://tech.yahoo.com/blog/null/88857)
Who is to blame? The user? The online video companies.
We as a society are going to continue to struggle to struggle with these questions as technology catches up with what are the values and norms of a society.
What do you think?