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February 7th, 2012:

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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