LIVONIA, NEW YORK — A man from Livonia, New York decided to troll his community by getting in on the creepy clown bandwagon, and everyone overreacted.
The Genesee Sun reports that Christopher Cody Hooper posted about a clown sighting on his Facebook page. In the post, Hooper said he spotted a clown on the swings while at Vitale Park one night. He put up a photo he claimed took of the clown, adding that the man ran away as soon as he did. The photo came with a warning not to go to the park alone or at night, and urged netizens to pass on the advice.
In reality, though, the image Hooper put up online was an especially well-photoshopped fake.
Recent ‘sightings’ across different states have already caused people to be unreasonably afraid of clowns, despite the lack of any credible threat. According to the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, Hooper’s hoax supposedly caused concern among locals, and sowed public alarm and panic.
Police eventually tracked Hooper down and arrested him for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the 3rd Degree. He may be facing jail time and a $1,000 fine.
Reaction has been mixed on the incident, with some praising the authorities for acting quickly, while others saying Hooper was merely exercising his freedom of speech.
If America’s massive hysteria over clowns proves anything, it’s that free speech and due process go flying out the window once people subscribe to fear, however irrational.