At the end of last month, a man made the news by chanting “white power” and throwing up white power signs while wearing an LAPD shirt during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Los Angeles. The clip circulated on social media and the appropriate people were all duly appalled.
Well as it turns out, the man in question ended up being neither white nor a cop.
According to KTLA-TV, the strange story came to an odd conclusion on Friday when a 36-year-old man was taken into custody after trying to pass himself off as a police officer to other police officers in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
What’s more, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joanna Warren said that Daniel Sohn told police he regularly passes himself off as a police officer in an apparent bid to get respect.
Here’s the video in which Sohn can be shown confronting the protesters and throwing up white power signs (or at least a white power sign invented by 4chan users as a hoax) at the protest late last month:
LAPD OFFICER REPEATEDLY YELLS “WHITE POWER” & THROWS UP WHITE POWER SIGN as he antagonizes the family of #AlbertRamonDorsey and #BlackLivesMatter protestors this morning at #Boycott24 demonstration outside 24-Hour Fitness in Hollywood. @WP4BL @shaunking @Jasmyne @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/EnLTG2yfRm
— #BlackLivesMatter-LA (@BLMLA) January 31, 2019
The protest, for the curious, centered around the death of Albert Ramon Dorsey, a 30-year-old man who was shot by police; Dorsey had allegedly assaulted a guard at a 24 Hour Fitness location and was trespassing the following day. When police confronted him, they say he noncompliant and was punching one of the officers, leading to the shooting.
The Los Angeles Times reported that police tried to make contact with the man in the video at the protest. However, he fled on foot. It was quickly determined that he wasn’t with the LAPD even though he had tried to pass himself off as an officer to the protesters.
“The apparel worn by the individual, specifically the T-shirt with LAPD insignia, is not Department issued and is accessible to the public,” a statement from the LAPD read.
“We will be working with our Entertainment Trademark Unit to ensure violations of our trademark on apparel are addressed.”
On Friday, officials say, they found the suspect quite by accident while doing a welfare check on an individual sleeping in a car.
“As they made contact with the man to check his welfare deputies noticed the male was wearing a long sleeve shirt with ‘LAPD’ logo on the front and patches on the sleeves,” the sheriff’s office said.
Officers realized the man in the car was also the man in the video. One thing led to another and he soon found himself in police custody.
And here comes the part which might have been able to guess from the video: Sohn is Asian, not white.
Pretty much everything about this story should have reeked from the outset. He couldn’t give his badge number to protesters. He certainly doesn’t look very white. The whole thing was farcical and should have been dismissed from the start. Instead, it got 3,300 retweets. Because, you know, cops are racist.
Plenty of people seemed to take this clip at face value, however.
Welp…..looks like he’ll be unemployed soon. SMH
— jd williams (@1jdwilli) January 31, 2019
He is fully aware that he is not white. He understand the social order in this country means he is in a high tier of acceptance than native black people. So he acts and imitate the actions of white supremacist.
— Joseph Wilder (@Jwilldadeal) January 31, 2019
And, when the Los Angeles Police Commissioner joined the thread to say they didn’t believe it was a police officer that did this, Black Lives Matter LA questioned the conclusion:
WHY do you “not believe this is a[n] LAPD employee”? Was there an investigation? Please explain, Mr. Police Commission President.
— #BlackLivesMatter-LA (@BLMLA) February 1, 2019
Right. Everyone involved here should have probably realized very quickly that this was just a seriously disturbed individual, not a police officer. And yet, tons of people seemed to have bought into the fact that either a) this guy really was with the LAPD, b) the LAPD wasn’t telling the whole truth and/or c) while he wasn’t white, he was indoctrinated by some sort of white supremacist superstructure.
Again, it’s another indication that reaching conclusions from short snippets of video posted to social media isn’t the best idea. You would have thought we would have figured this out after the events of the past month, but apparently not.
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