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Is That Legal – Freaky The Scary Snowman

Freaky The Scary Snowman

Photo by Freaky The Scary Snowman

Freaky The Scary Snowman is an ingenious spectacle on the East Coast. Freaky is really a shell of a snowman made primarily out of chicken wire and insulation foam. One person puts of the Freaky costume and stands unassumingly on the sidewalk. When someone walks by, Freaky turns his head or his whole body and scares the bejezus out of them. One of the other masterminds tapes these incidents and compiles them into YouTube videos.

I’m biased when it comes to Freaky. I think he’s hilarious. I look forward to every new video.

Recently the guys were filming Freaky in Providence, Rhode lsland and they were approached by a police officer. The officer told them that the guys had to leave because the police had received “a lot of complaints” about Freaky and that people were “falling off the curb.” None of the recently released videos showed anyone falling down. The most I saw were people stepping off the curb. It made me question the legalities of Freaky the Snowman.

Does Freaky Commit Disorderly Conduct?
I think that’s a stretch. Disorderly conduct in Rhode Island involves engaging “in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.” I don’t think being a barely moving snowman counts as threatening behavior, even if it results in people being momentarily frightened.

What About Blocking the Sidewalk?
You can commit disorderly conduct if you obstruct a sidewalk in Rhode Island; however, Freaky isn’t big enough to obstruct a sidewalk if he’s standing up. A person could easily share a sidewalk with him.

Can Freaky Scaring People be an Assault?
In Rhode Island, you commit assault by putting someone in fear of physical contact, without ever laying a finger on the victim. People who are scared by Freaky sometimes raise a fist as if to defend themselves when they see him move. That could be evidence of assault. I think Freaky’s best argument is he doesn’t have any arms to hit with which to hit anyone and he usually turns in place towards the person. He rarely gets physically closer to the unsuspecting person than the person voluntarily put themselves.

Could Freaky Face Civil Charges?
I would think this could be a bigger concern than criminal charges. There is lots of footage of people stepping off the sidewalk when they’re scared. If a person stepped off the curb and into oncoming traffic, the Freaky guys could be held liable.

Freaky doesn’t have any arms. If he falls there’s no way he can break his fall or prevent himself from falling on whatever’s in his path. There was an incident where a man punched Freaky out of fear. Freaky fell like a stone and took out a small child. Don’t worry, the kid was fine. If someone ever gets hurt by a falling Freaky, the guys could be at least held partially responsible.

I’m not completely convinced that the Providence Police had enough evidence to make Freaky leave, but I think the guys made the right choice to move on. The end of their latest video shows Freaky in Newport where a police officer was standing on the corner laughing while Freaky was down the street, scaring people passing by.

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11 Comments

  1. Katie says:

    This is really interesting because there’s been something like this in San Francisco for at least the last 10+ years (I know because when I was 15 he “got” me and I wasn’t anywhere near the first.) Ours is called Bushman and he lives near Pier 39. He wears camo and hides behind branches near bushes and then pops out at unsuspecting tourists. I don’t think he’d ever be asked to leave because it’s almost become a thing of pride – like if you’re a local you know about him so you walk your visitors right near him to scare them while you know it’s coming. But I wonder if there were times where he was asked to leave or if there was an ever an incident of any kind resulting from his scares. I don’t know – never looked it up. But I love this kind of humor so glad to hear it’s not super illegal 🙂

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      That’s awesome! I grew up in the Bay Area and I’d never heard of or encountered Bushman before. I’ll have to visit Pier 39 the next time I’m in town!

    2. Alvin says:

      Wow, I just made an account so I can reply that I’ve seen the Bushman! He’s so hilarious, he scared me once and I just got a laugh out of it. It’s fun to stand on the other side of the street and look at other people getting scared, it’s something fun that adds to Pier 39. I don’t see anything wrong with him or the snowman, although he does look scary D:

      1. Ruth Carter says:

        I love characters like Freaky and the Bushman, and I agree Freaky looks scary. The people who built him did a brilliant job.

  2. Grant Stedman says:

    I’ve seen Bushman at Pier 39 also. He usually attracts quite a few people around him and watch passersby get the @#$@!! scared out of them. The overwhelming response after two seconds of terror is laughter from the victim, and the cheering from the crowd.

    Freaky is harmless, and so is Bushman. I’m glad to hear Freaky has a new, welcoming venue. I hope Providence takes some bad publicity over this. It really was stupid to push Freaky away.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      I think if people like Bushman and Freaky are harmless, then let them be.

  3. Richard says:

    Actually yes, I think that ‘Freaky’ could face civil suits because while what he’s doing may be funny, it can also be dangerous because you do not know what sort of conditions the random by-passer your scaring may have, such as high blood pressure or a heart condition. Lets say for example that one day ‘Freaky’ scares someone that has a medical condition and the sudden increased heart rate caused that person to have a heart attack and die. Do you think that ‘Freaky’s producers should not be held accountable for that, or owe the family for causing the premature loss of a loved one?

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      I agree! If I was in the Freaky suit, I’d be most afraid that someone would trip and break their arm, or get scared and step into traffic, or otherwise be injured because they were scared and that I’d be liable for their injuries.

  4. Josh R says:

    Freaky The Scary Snowman is one of my favorite YouTubers! I just made a video with him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovOc5pAKb-w

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Awh…Eskimo kisses!