Do we side with the two dozen young shakers, including a man dressed in a banana suit, who gathered in front of the "Welcome to Hialeah" sign to take their shot at YouTube stardom? Or do we side with the fuzz who put the kibosh on the most overplayed meme on the planet? It's a tough call.
The trouble began with a Facebook post by Dax Sotero, a Miami-Dade County Public Schools substitute teacher. "I think it's about time we show the world how to do the Harlem Shake Hialeah style," Sotero wrote, while inviting everyone to convene February 24 at the Hialeah sign at West 84th Street and 12th Avenue. "Make sure to bring some crazy costumes and be ready for an epic Harlem Shake."
The day of the shake, all was going according to plan until 2:34 p.m., when Sotero posted, "Already got the intro scene done. Now just need everyone to show up and go crazy!!!!!!!"
Things got crazy, all right. Soon after that post, six Hialeah cops in three patrol cars and a brown undercover Crown Victoria, sirens and lights blaring, sped to the scene. The po-po ordered the crowd to disperse because it was disrupting traffic, according to a police report. Then they zeroed in on Florida International University student Eric Faden, who was filming the officers.
The cops say Faden turned to a sergeant "in a threatening manner." When the sergeant grabbed Faden's left arm to place him under arrest, Faden allegedly resisted and was thrown to the ground and cuffed along with his friend Dee Dee Wright and another would-be dancer. Faden was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest without violence. The cops also confiscated his cell phone.
In the wake of the Hialeah "Harlem Shake" shutdown, the participants went on Facebook to accuse the cops of beating up Faden because he tried to film them with his cell-phone camera. "We where [sic] all witnesses. Everyone saw how they fucked up his face afterwards when he fell," Felix Yoel Garcia Rodriguez wrote. "And it is not illegal to record an officer if you don't have intentions of releasing and trying to harm the person, plus we were out in a public place."
After his charges were dropped, Faden hired attorney Jose "Pepe" Herrera to get his phone back. "They messed with the wrong guy," Faden says. "It's ridiculous the Hialeah police is focusing on going after kids shooting a 'Harlem Shake' video." Herrera accuses the cops of violating Faden's First and Fourth Amendment rights. "The charges were totally fabricated," he says. "People have a right to videotape and photograph events as they are occurring."
A Hialeah PD spokesperson failed to respond to a request for comment.