Students ‘terrorised’ by ‘panic-inducing’ YouTube pranks at US university, lawsuit says


During one the pair dressed up as characters from the Netflix series Squid Game and in another, the men, along with another unnamed perpetrator, entered a data sciences lecture and escorted the professor out of the room and began lecturing the students about marijuana, according to the Daily Trojan. — Photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash

The University of Southern California has sued two YouTubers over a series of “panic-inducing” pranks the pair staged during university lectures and recorded for their YouTube channel, the lawsuit says.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday, April 8, that bans Ernest Kanevsky and Yuguo Bai from campus and other university-owned buildings because of their involvement in the YouTube stunts, according to City News Service. The men are not students at the university, which is located in Los Angeles.

The pair disrupted lectures at the university’s Mark Taper Hall of Humanities on three occasions since 2021, terrorising students and inciting panic, according to the Daily Trojan.

During one prank, filmed on March 29, the men disrupted a Jewish Studies lecture on the Holocaust, causing students to run out of the classroom, according to USC Annenberg Media. Both men were detained by the university’s Department of Public Safety after the incident.

According to the Daily Trojan, Kanevsky entered the lecture dressed as a member of the Russian mafia, and Bai, who was already seated in the classroom, pretended to be Hugo Boss, a fashion designer whose company supplied Nazis with uniforms.

The lawsuit names two other incidents in which Kanevsky and Bai disrupted lectures, according to local media outlets. During one the pair dressed up as characters from the Netflix series Squid Game and in another, the men, along with another unnamed perpetrator, entered a data sciences lecture and escorted the professor out of the room and began lecturing the students about marijuana, according to the Daily Trojan.

“The defendants’ conduct has caused University students to experience emotional distress and genuine fear for their personal wellbeing; against the national background of active shooter concerns on college campuses,” the lawsuit says, according to the Daily Trojan.

Kanevsky goes by Eric Kanevsky on YouTube and has 110,000 subscribers. His channel includes a variety of prank videos filmed in public spaces including universities, stores and the beach.

“Simply put, there is no public benefit to terrorising students to the point where they are running out of lecture halls for fear of their lives through the perpetration of prank classroom takeovers in order to garner a handful of likes on YouTube,” university lawyers stated in court documents, according to City News Service. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service

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