Instagram trolls create havoc in East Harlem by staging vigilante justice.
Instagram users tied a cohort to a Manhattan light pole as part of a vigilante justice prank, prompting unaware passers-by to join in on the humiliation of the alleged thief — and cops to rush to the scene with guns drawn.
“It was as if guns were drawn… from the holster. I was like, ‘Yo, we got you!'” prankster Julio Martinez, 35, told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Martinez stated that his crew taped friend Jose Hernandez to a lamp post at the intersection of East 111th Street and Lexington Avenue around 10:30 p.m. Saturday and began filming as part of a staged viral attempt.
The group began mockingly yelling at and slapping Hernandez, an alleged thief, as if administering some much-needed street justice.
The East Harlem uproar drew onlookers, who joined in taunting the tied-up man, oblivious to the fact that the event was staged.
Within minutes, squad cars arrived, flashing their lights and blaring their sirens.
“He was like, ‘Yo, lightly slap me.’ We’ll have to wait and see what happens,’ Martinez said of Hernandez. “I slapped him, and then the cops arrived.”
Hernandez was taped to the pole wearing nothing but his underwear as onlookers egged on his phony vigilante abusers.
“I immediately began slapping him –– boom, boom! And they were like, ‘Yeah, f–k him!'” Martinez explained.
“They were all like, ‘What did he do?’ And we were like, ‘He was stealing f–king money! You are not an f-king thief!’ And people were all like, ‘Yes, you do not f–king steal! Eliminate him!'”
Initially, officers treated the situation as if it were an ongoing crime. Martinez stated that some had their hands on their weapons while others removed them from their holsters.
When the cops realized the incident was staged, they asked Hernandez to nod if he was all right — and then joined in on the fun with the pranksters.
In the midst of his interview with a Post reporter, the prankster posted on Instagram, “It’s comedy man, and it’s great to hear we fooled people.”
By Tuesday evening, the video had garnered slightly more than 2,000 views.
A spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed the incident was staged.