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A YouTube video of eight young men terrorizing bicyclists and pedestrians -- including children and older people -- in what appear to be Minneapolis and St. Paul has triggered an investigation by police in both cities.
Edited and set to music, the video shows the group of what appear to be teenagers or young men taking turns saying, "Watch this," before knocking down victims and running away, laughing.
In the six-minute, 20-second video, entitled "Watch This T.V.," the perpetrators give full names and nicknames such as "Lil Stain," "Shark" and "Gun Play." Police wouldn't say whether they believe the full names are real, but they say they have identified the perpetrators and are trying to track them down.
In the video, one of the attackers chases two young children who appear to be walking home from school and shoves one of them down a hill. Another throws something into the face of a convenience store cashier.
At least one incident appears to have occurred along the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, where the attackers jump out at a cyclist, punching at him with boxing gloves.
Other incidents appear to have taken place in St. Paul, including at the intersection of University and Lexington avenues.
The creator of the video, who posted it online Monday, describes the attackers as "a group of Somali black males pulling pranks on people."
Authorities aren't laughing.
"It's disturbing to watch," said St. Paul police Sgt. Paul Schnell. "Our first objective is that we want it to stop because we don't want somebody getting hurt." Schnell said the video also could lead to criminal charges.
Schnell said several citizens e-mailed the video to police Tuesday morning.
"With absolute certainty, there is a desire to talk to these people," Schnell said. "Whether criminal charges are brought will be dependent upon our ability to match the incident with actual reports by the victims."
Schnell said there do not yet appear to be any reports matching the incidents, which police believe are recent.
Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia also called the video "disturbing" and said the city's investigators are cross-checking it against reports of attacks. One Minneapolis incident, in addition to one on the Greenway, may have taken place near the light rail repair station below Interstate 94.
Garcia compared the video with one shot in June, in which several young people followed and taunted a gay man as he walked home from the Minneapolis Gay Pride festival. That video was posted on YouTube, but police were unable to identify the taunters, Garcia said.
Although the most recent video has been removed, whoever posted it hinted that more videos were to come. The posting caused a backlash from commenters on the site.
"This video has been sent to the police ... have fun with that guys," one said.
"(These) fools let us Somalis down," another said.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921