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January 27, 2017

VIDEO: Did Philly marijuana activist really troll cop at Trump protest?

Videos Marijuana
Nikki Allan Poe Nikki Allan Poe/Facebook

Marijuana activist Nikki Allan Poe lights a joint in front of a man during protests in Philadelphia.

From a 51-foot long joint at the Democratic National Convention to a pot-smoking sit-in at Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia marijuana activist Nikki Allan Poe knows how to get attention.

So it's no surprise that his video "How to Smoke Out a Cop at a Protest," shot during the protests in Center City as Republican lawmakers gathered for a retreat in the city on Wednesday night, has already gotten more than 100,000 views on Facebook.

It's obviously a catchy title, but is it completely accurate?

In the video, also posted to YouTube, Poe lights a joint and offers it to a middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap and standing next him.

When the man refuses, Poe starts referring to him as a "cop" and offers the joint to others standing around, saying the "cop" can't do anything about it since he's "undercover." (Getting caught smoking weed in Philly warrants a $100 fine.)

Poe told PhillyVoice he didn't expect the video to blow up like it did. He knows he can't say for sure whether it's a cop, and that before uploading the video, they actually considered using "Trump supporter" for the headline instead.

"It may have been pretty over the top, but we were just trying to have a laugh and clown around," Poe said.

Jeff Chrusch of the Philadelphia Police Department's Public Affairs unit said in an email it's their policy not to discuss manpower or deployment issues for any event, let alone confirm someone is or is not a plain-clothes officer.

As for the video, Chrusch added that Public Affairs Commanding Officer Lt. John Stanford "didn't waste his time watching" it.

"I watched the video, it looks like a pretty rude thing to do to a human being in general," Chrusch wrote. "I hope your (sic) not dismissing the fact that it was pretty rude, no matter who was in the video."

Hearing the police response to the video, Poe felt the need to defend himself, especially in regard to his relationship with police.

"At the end of the day, I have the utmost respect for the Philadelphia Police Department," Poe said. "I love my relationship with them, I think they are doing an amazing job at our protests."

It's true that Poe and other city marijuana activists have formed a working relationship with police. Earlier this month, Poe and others peacefully sat down with officers to work out the specifics of their January 20th Rittenhouse Square protest.

Poe is a "comedian by trade," and when he and his friend saw the man featured in the video, they claim they saw an opportunity for humor. Because even if they're not sure if he was an undercover cop, he says the man sure looked like one.

"Get different shoes when you're going undercover," Poe joked.

Chrusch, for his part, chirped that he was "offended as a Penn State Fan," referencing the fleece worn by the man in the video — which is possibly what helped him stick out like a sore thumb.

Correction: This article has been corrected to properly spell Jeff Chrusch's name, as it was previously misspelled as Jeff Church.