Video shows a sheriff’s sergeant playing Taylor Swift in a confrontation with activists to stop it from being posted to YouTube

Police officer plays taylor swift song outside courthouse
Sgt. David Shelby playing a Taylor Swift song while speaking to protesters outside a courthouse in Oakland, California. Anti Police-Terror Project via YouTube
  • A California sheriff’s sergeant played a pop song to stop activists from posting a clip to YouTube.
  • In the video, the officer says the clip of the encounter “can’t be uploaded” due to copyright laws.
  • The sheriff’s office said its deputy was “trying to be a little smart, and it kind of backfired.”
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An Alameda County, California, sheriff’s deputy played a Taylor Swift song on his phone when protesters tried to film an encounter with him in an attempt to stop the video from being posted to YouTube.

The officer, identified by the Los Angeles Times as Sgt. David Shelby, was confronting activists over their banners outside the Alameda County courthouse in California on Tuesday when he started blasting Swift’s “Blank Space” from his phone.

Watch the encounter here:

The activists, some of whom were from the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), were attending the pretrial hearing of a San Leandro police officer charged with the manslaughter of Steven Taylor, a Black man.

“You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube,” Shelby is heard telling the activists in the video, which was posted to the APTP’s various social media platforms.

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Shelby was referring to YouTube’s automated copyright system, which detects and prevents unauthorized protected material from being uploaded. This includes pop songs.

Despite his efforts, the video has been posted to YouTube, where it has gained more than 365,000 videos at time of writing, as well as Twitter and Instagram.

It’s not clear why the APTP’s video bypassed YouTube’s copyright rules. But according to The Verge, not all videos containing unauthorized protected material violate social media rules, and platforms can take into consideration how much of the video contains recorded music, as well as the length of individual songs.

YouTube did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said it did not “condone” Shelby’s behavior and said his actions did not have their desired effect, The Washington Post reported.

“The officer was trying to be a little smart, and it kind of backfired,” Sgt. Ray Kelly, a sheriff’s office spokesperson, told The Post. “This is not a good look for law enforcement.”

Kelly said that Shelby is still on duty, but that the case is being investigated.

In a statement, the APTP wrote: “We’d heard about this phenomenon, but no-one had captured it on video until now. Now not only do we have a video of a cop doing it, we also have the cop admitting why he was doing it,” the BBC reported.