USC sues YouTubers for inciting ‘panic’ with classroom takeover prank

The College of Southern California is suing two YouTubers after they allegedly precipitated a “credible threat of imminent classroom violence” by disrupting lectures to movie prank movies.

The varsity filed short-term restraining orders towards Ernest Kanevsky and Yuguo Bai, who are usually not USC college students, after they staged three “classroom takeover prank” movies. The restraining orders, granted by a Los Angeles County Superior Court docket choose on Friday, ban the pair from the College Park campus.

In the newest “prank” filmed at USC, Kanevsky and Bai interrupted a lecture on the Holocaust and claimed to be a part of the Russian mafia. The confrontation they staged within the classroom incited panic among the many college students.

The grievance USC filed alleges that Kanevsky “regularly harasses, bullies and intimidates unsuspecting citizens” all through Los Angeles by filming “prank” movies for his YouTube channel. He usually “dangerously and recklessly” conducts “classroom takeovers” with the assistance of Bai, who movies the stunts and has his personal YouTube channel, based on the grievance.

Kanevsky and Bai’s interruption precipitated college students “emotional distress and genuine fear for their personal well-being,” the grievance states, and given the “national background of active shooter concerns” in schools, the disruptions have contributed to the “growing anxiety” over campus security.

Kanevsky and Bai didn’t instantly reply to request for remark.

In an announcement to the New York Times, Kanevsky mentioned, “The whole lawsuit and what everyone is reporting is very deceiving.”

He described the lawsuit as “reaching to the fullest” in an Instagram comment on Monday.

The restraining orders had been issued amid a shift in public acceptance of on-line prank content material, which had been wildly in style on YouTube years in the past. Audiences are much less tolerant of merciless and obnoxious prank movies, particularly when filmed in public areas like college campuses.

Cynthia Gendrich, a theater professor at Wake Forest Faculty who teaches about laughter and sociology, previously told NBC that there’s a restrict to public tolerance for pranks.

“Lots of theorists point at that moment when our hearts [or] empathy engages being the moment when we can’t laugh,” she mentioned.

Throughout a March 29 incident, Kanevsky and Bai stormed right into a USC classroom lecture on the Holocaust in costume, based on the grievance. Kanevsky was allegedly dressed as a “member of the Russian Mafia,” whereas Bai pretended to be Hugo Boss, a German designer who manufactured Nazi uniforms throughout World Warfare II.

Kanevsky walked into the classroom carrying a “distinctive silver briefcase” and requested if Hugo Boss was within the room, the grievance states, noting that the professor believed {that a} “potentially violent incident” was about to transpire, and that Kanevsky focused his class due to the lecture’s subject material.

The pair then staged a confrontation and Kanevsky reached into the silver briefcase, inflicting a “wave of panic” among the many college students, based on the grievance. They started fleeing the classroom in a “frantic attempt” to get away from the incident. Some tripped over seats and one another, and others left behind laptops and backpacks.

“I was near the door and I started running out,” scholar Avery Kotler informed USC Annenberg Media. “Everyone just left in a really big panic.”

I used to be close to the door and I began operating out.

-student Avery Kotler, in an interview with USC Annenberg Media

Officers ultimately stopped the pair at gunpoint in a campus parking construction, the grievance states.

Kanevsky informed the New York Instances that the incident was “part of a dare that was supposed to be a harmless, funny scene.”

“The whole notion that we targeted a Holocaust class is absurd,” he added. “Hugo Boss is literally the name that Yuguo goes by.”

The incident was solely the newest in a string of disruptive classroom takeovers staged by Kanevsky and Bai.

In September, Kanevsky, Bai and a 3rd particular person barged right into a classroom and bodily intimidated the professor into leaving, earlier than all taking turns at “lecturing” the scholars, the grievance states. The professor, who was “visibly shaken up,” required campus safety to accompany him throughout lectures for “several weeks” after the incident.

Throughout a November incident, Kanevsky, Bai and two different people disrupted a lecture whereas dressed as characters from the violent present “Squid Game,” based on the grievance. Bai, dressed as a “player,” entered the classroom chased by Kanevsky, who was dressed as a “guard.” They staged an obvious kidnapping with Bai yelling, “If they catch me, my family will die!”

The grievance states that a number of college students appeared “shaken” after the incident.

Kanevsky and Bai have executed related stunts at others school campuses, collectively and individually. Final 12 months, Kanevsky and one other particular person boasted about classroom evacuation on the College of California, Los Angeles campus in a YouTube video. What seemed to be campus safety eliminated Bai from Santiago Canyon Faculty after he interrupted college students throughout a check to offer “motivational speeches” in a video posted earlier this month. In a YouTube video posted final 12 months, the College of Texas, Dallas police division appeared to difficulty Kanevsky a legal trespass warning after he interrupted a lecture.

UCLA, Santiago Canyon Faculty and UT Dallas didn’t instantly reply to request for remark.

Kanevsky and Bai didn’t reply to request for remark concerning earlier incidents on different campuses.

USC’s lawsuit towards Kanevsky and Bai additionally calls for monetary compensation for damages, and bans the pair from making extra content material associated to the college.

“The court’s order granting a temporary restraining order underscores the need to provide a sense of stability and comfort in an in-person learning environment and in light of campus safety concerns nationally on college campuses,” USC mentioned in an announcement Monday. “The court ruling should be viewed as a warning that such behavior won’t be tolerated by these or any other individuals.”

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