The saga of Afroduck, a.k.a. Canadian citizen Adam Tang who recorded himself setting a 'record' lap around Manhattan, ended last month with his fleeing to Canada before a jury convicted him of reckless driving.
Frankly, Tang has never seemed like an entirely trustworthy source and, while it's true that the NYPD and the DA clearly went out of their way to assure his successful prosecution, it's my belief that he not only broke the law, but that he flaunted his record and his incorrect belief that the police couldn't find him (something Tang conveniently seems to forget).
In communications with Tang he's seemed cognitively impervious to the idea that his actions – driving above the speed limit around Manhattan and running at least one light – could have consequences and that justice could possibly be applied in different ways to different people or that he could have possibly brought this on himself. If he'd have waited a year it's unlikely they'd have tried to prosecute him.
I'm not editing this piece so you can have some insight into what Tang thinks and so that anyone trying to redo this lap (or any other record) understands there are consequences to actions. – M.H.
The Truth Behind Manhattan's "Fastest" Lap by Afroduck
I am penning this article in order to address the many questions the Jalopnik.com community has had with regards to this whole Afroducking charade and to put an end to all the speculation. There have been many of you whom have both supported my decisions as well as called me the worse names out there. For the record, I concede that what I did was STUPID, so children, please do not attempt this yourselves.
Before I begin, I would like to dispel any rumors most of you have read in the general news. One thing I learned after being through this ordeal is that the press rarely gets anything right—particularly New York Post and the Daily News. They couldn't even get my name, age, or nationality right for the first six months despite the NYPD providing them this 'insider' information! Makes you wonder what else was guessed at… That is why I am now addressing any misconceptions that are out there in order to set the record straight, so all of you, and myself, can move on from this at least having learned something. $50,000 cost of education, I guess you can call it that…
1. It was never my intention to turn this into a big pissing match between the NYPD or the Manhattan DA's office and myself. I never thought what I did would be such a big deal considering I am not the first to have filmed the "Manhattan lap" or to have done something "dare devil" in New York City. In addition, if you search on YouTube, you will undoubtedly find countless videos of people performing car stunts in New York and the rest of the US with no repercussions, despite it all being recorded and uploaded on YouTube (see this channel as an example: Ferrari F50 hard launch and flyby in NYC ). However, this was also clearly my ignorant mistake.
For anyone claiming to say, "they need to make an example of him to either stop copycats or deter others from doing it in the future", I say, "I'm not the first to have done it, nor will I be the last." That is why I never considered disguising who I was via my IP address during the upload, especially for a video that was sped up 4.3 times along with having a lot of postproduction done. If anyone has a problem with what I'm saying, I invite you to watch the original video footage: Afroduck Original and compare it to the post production version: Fastest Lap Around Manhattan 2013 by Afroduck Productions and tell me what you think in the comments below after reviewing BOTH.
2. I have read many comments calling me arrogant and/or stupid for not taking a plea deal, and instead, taking this all the way to trial. Let me explain why I decided on this course of action.
First, I would like to make it clear that I was NEVER offered a plea deal of 1 week in jail as per what is in the news. The first, and really only offer I ever received officially through my lawyer was this:
- 6 months in Jail
- 600 hours of community service
- Civil forfeiture of my car
- Deportation (which is another 2 months in an ICE facility)
- $5,000 fine
That was the offer to start negotiations, made by a junior 30yr old ADA named Jaime Miguel Hickey-Mendoza, who was really a errand boy for the higher-up's. His role was to act as a go between for people higher up on the "8th Floor" of the Manhattan DA's office where Cy Vance Jr.'s rules from. Keep in mind the offer above was made to me before any of the higher up authorities on the 8th floor even watched my original video. Let me note that the original video was also withheld from the grand jury despite being in the DA's possession since the day I was arrested. They also attempted to indict me with a felony reckless driving charge based on only the edited video being presented to the grand jury. This just goes to show the lengths that a District Attorney's office can go in order to send a message to the 'people' when they are trying to indict and prosecute a case in New York City… and when they aren't.
Two months after this offer was made in December 2013, I met with another man named Eugene Pocaro, who despite having an ADA title himself, is really the Head of the Trial Bureau division in Manhattan. Along with his other ADA employees, they finally conceded to meet me in what is officially called a "Proffer Session". If it weren't for my repeated request through my lawyer for this meeting, I would never actually have met the people whom had the inclination to prosecute me in the first place. Personally, I like to meet the people who are out to screw with me, and ask why?
After meeting what could best be described as the Brady Bunch of Manhattan's Prosecutors, things began to become clear to me as to their true motives. I am a believer that you can tell a person's true intentions when you meet them face to face, and when I met them, they had the predisposition to prosecute this case that no video evidence could dissuade. After a few accusatory questions led by Mr. Pocaro, I quickly discovered that I was meeting with a very unreasonable man that had not even taken the time to watch the original video and made it crystal clear that this was a case to be used to make an example! No matter what! There would be no compromise whatsoever!!! (see here: Manhattan District Attorney's Office Showing No Leniency in Daredevil Cases) Here is where I began to question the merits of the New York justice system. Is justice in America really about making examples out of people for personal/political gain? And if so, as a Canadian, what can I do to protect myself from malicious prosecution of this nature? Remember, I am subjugated by jurisdiction, not citizenship. Viva la Canada!
As an honest person, I have always said that I would plead guilty to where guilty is due:
- Running a red light
- Crossing a double white line
However, I am also a man of principle, and will not plead guilty to something I did not do. I still firmly believe that my actions should not have been charged with reckless driving or reckless endangerment. To accuse me otherwise, I would naturally demand for my day in court as I think any driver would. I set out to make a cool video that would show that both Alex Roy did not reach 144 mph as he claimed in his book, nor did CBC know what they were doing with a camera in a safe and acceptable manner when they went on their masquerade run back in June of 2011 (see here: Fastest Driven Lap of Manhattan // CBC). I did this in a safe, competent manner that required both a degree of skill and planning. It was done at 4am on a random week night, on a multilane highways, that any New Yorker will tell you people speed on. Speed does not kill (see here: Speed Kills Your Pocketbook ).
3. I understand what I did was firmly in the realm of "STUPIDITY", but again, does stupidity in America = jail time? Particularly when no third party was affected or harmed during the act? No damage was done to New York City property. There were no traffic cameras that recorded me. No reports from third party individuals. And in fact, if you watch the video, there were three police units on the route—all of whom did not react to my driving or the other guy driving noticeably faster than I was on the West Side Highway during the last half of the video. If it does, I don't want to be a part of a driving society like that. There are plenty of roads in countries in this world that treat driving as a earned privilege, not a right to be legally applied at the flip of a switch.
4. If you are wondering about my "jury rigging" accusations, please refer to the NY Times article clearly stating that I was to be made an example of (Damascus Sookbirsingh (61)):
I am aware I could have raised this issue before sentencing, but I was warned that a) the judge ruling on the decision would be the same as the trial judge, Ann Donnelly, who already rubber stamped all my pretrial hearings against me; including the police lying about there being no security camera in my building… when there in fact was, b) I was assured that despite the cost to tax payers, the ADA would vigilantly continue to retry the case again as this would have caused a mistrial, not a dismissal, so more trial fee's to me, and c) I'd be sitting in jail while all this would be sorted out so another $50,000ish at that point would be required for bail and legal fees. Got to love the cost of justice!
So, if you're the first one out the door, that's not called panicking.
5. I believe that the trial judge, Ann Donnelly, was personally influenced to give me the maximum sentence, not because of what I did, but because she is up for Supreme Court nomination as of November 2014 and has the Senate review currently taking a closer look at her cases (see here: President Obama Nominates Three to Serve on the United States District Courts). In a case that is so political, how can you call this being impartial? I would also like to point out to any voting American's to take this into serious consideration. A Supreme Court nomination of a Judge handing down the max sentence based on a Youtube video because that is what the US Judicial System expects despite said video evidence speaking otherwise is a chilling reminder that video does not matter when the courts want to (or don't want to) make an example of person (citizen or not).
6. As for the point of extradition from Canada to the USA. This cannot happen. First and foremost, the US Federal State Department must get involved, and for that to happen, my crime has to be at the Federal level and therefore go past Federal review. That means that at the very least it would have to be a felony charge. Secondly, my immigration concerns are not directly related to my New York State crime. Federal agencies do not care what happens on a state level, unless it meets a federal threshold for them to take action, which my charge does not. In fact, my charges are arguably less severe than a DUI charge is in most states in the US… except maybe Virginia…
7. I ultimately left to go back to Canada because I asked myself the hard question of where I would like to raise my family in this world. After being dragged through the US legal system, I realized that despite thinking I was given "special" treatment, I was in fact not. Hundreds of thousands of people in the US go through what I experienced, and often times much worse. It is a standing fact that America incarcerates more people than any other country in the world today (see here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_St… ). An oppressive legal system that does not care about the impact it has on its own citizens is a country I do not wish to live in or raise my family in. A legal system that takes every opportunity to lock someone up for financial, political, or personal gain outweighs what should be the blind logic of justice, is not a country I wish to live in. If the American society wants to promote prosecutors who go after people on merits other than their actions and facts, then I will have to take the necessary measures to protect my sovereign Canadian rights and return home with my family to live in a country that respects its citizens' civil liberties and is not out to blindly punish people through malicious prosecution. I amNOT American. I have never wanted to be an American citizen. And after what I continue to witness of selective application of American 'justice', I do not want to live in America. That is my personal choice afforded to me as a Canadian citizen, and I wish to pass it along as a warning to all others who are also subjected to the American 'legal system'. If they are willing to spend your tax money to this extent to come after people like me, what will happen to all of you the moment you step out of line? There are countries in this world, Canada being one of them, which treats their citizens with the legal dignity they deserve and look at the facts for what they are. It's a free country where you do not have to fear the police or the prosecutors by telling the truth. There is no legal conjectures of 'what ifs' conducted in select court rooms to uphold a façade of a functioning legal system, when what really is happening behind the scenes is much more calculated. Look around America today; do you see a fair sense of justice?
Adam Tang aka Afroduck
P.S. "Afroduck" was really just that…a cute duck. Plus, it was not a name I chose.