The 'prank' king of north London
On the trail of Mizzy, London's worst prankster
Morning — a deeply unhinged story for you today. Dog theft, mock assaults and home invasion have got a north London prankster exactly what he wanted: a rapid rise to fame. All the details on the now notorious Mizzy after your Thursday briefing below.
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What we’ve spied
🖊️ A million people have signed a petition calling for the Met to be held “criminally accountable” for the shooting of two dogs. The dogs, named Marshall and Millions, were shot dead earlier this month in east London after police were phoned on reports about a dog attack. In protest of the shooting, animal rights campaigners are now planning a nationwide vigil, reaching everywhere from Kent to Sheffield to Plymouth, on the June 4. Meanwhile in the Met, the officer who investigated Wayne Couzen’s indecent exposure has now been barred for life after being found guilty of gross misconduct.
🏘️ Leaseholders in Camden are faced with “life-ruining” bills after their brand-new block of flats has been declared unfit for purpose. The block was completed just a few years ago, but already has problems with the foundations, walls and timber frame, prompting an independent survey to say its structure is unsalvageable. They recommend knocking it down and starting again. Despite the fact that newbuilds should be covered by warranty, one resident says he has been forced to pay £100,000 in legal fees.
🗺️ The first-ever maps of the London underground drawn by designer Harry Beck have sold for £50,000. Beck’s map of the tube network has become a design classic, but it’s unclear if he ever got paid for it – at most, he might’ve been given £300 (in today’s money), according to the Times. A collection of his maps, which was sold at a rare book fair, included variations on the design including one that was altered to fit inside a pocket.
💻 A study has found that workers in central London now spend an average of just 2.3 days a week in the office. The most common working pattern was two days in the office versus three at home, accounting for a third of all respondents. Overall, young people are more likely to spend time in the office than their older counterparts.
🖼️ Mixed reviews for the Tate Britain’s complete rehang of its free collection displays. For the Times it’s “a compelling new story of British art”, but the Guardian says “this is now the museum where art goes to sleep”.
🧵 A landmark sari exhibition has opened at the Design Museum, the first of its kind in the UK. The exhibition features 60 saris including one worn by Indian businesswoman Natasha Poonawalla at the Met Gala last year, which was designed by a huge Indian designer called Sabyasachi. It also explores how saris have become, for some, an “expression of resistance to social norms”, and how activists wear them as an “object of protest”.
The rapid rise and fall of Mizzy
It’s a surreal scene — Piers Morgan and an 18-year-old TikTok prankster from Hackney discussing the ethics of stealing an elderly woman’s dog on live TV.
This week Mizzy, real name Bacari Ogarro, became the internet’s persona non grata for his vast back catalogue of extreme prank videos filmed in north London. Ripping up books in libraries, asking strangers if they want a punch, entering homes — his antics caught the attention of the media, MPs and, in the end, the police.
At first I thought ‘free-roamer’ might be the best description for Mizzy — that’s at least the genre of his TikToks I first encountered, which show him getting out-of-bounds. Scrolling through my feed earlier this year I caught sight of the Greggs in Dalston. You watch in mild horror as Mizzy, filming first person, breaks taboo and walks straight past the front counter into the kitchen. A woman preparing food clocks him and asks what he’s doing, but he presses on, eventually making it to what looks like the staff room at the back.
Your horror eases slightly, when you hear the staff laugh. It’s almost wholesome — isn’t it funny you’re here when you really shouldn’t be — though you can’t help wondering if the smiles are just an attempt to diffuse the situation. But I guess it’s a prank?
Another appeared on my feed a few weeks later. This time Mizzy is motorised, riding an electric Lime bike through Dalston Kingsland shopping centre and making a beeline for the big Sainsbury’s. Ignoring shouts from staff at the door he weaves through the aisles to the back stockroom. “I’m coming out, boss” he insists when security eventually catches up with him and starts trying to grab the bike. Mizzy escapes and zooms back out again. There’s one dicey moment right at the end, where he has to swerve out of the way of a person pushing a pram. He dodges though and no one appears physically hurt — so I guess it’s still a prank?
There’s countless more videos like this — in McDonalds, JD Sports, Tescos, KFC, M&S, Taco Bell, Pret. I think it’s fair to say he’s hit most of the high street brands in north east London. Westfield at Stratford is a particularly frequent haunt. If there’s a theme to all his videos, I’d point to his most repeated catchphrase in his videos: “reality is an illusion”. To Mizzy, London is a city of “NPCs” — non-playable characters, a term for the computer-controlled and often hapless characters in video games. The basic format of his videos is breaking some kind of boundary, then filming the NPC glitching out in response.
The thing with Mizzy though is, the deeper you dig, the more extreme it gets. A case in point is the now notorious house invasion video. It’s hard to say when exactly it was posted, as Mizzy subsequently got banned by TikTok and YouTube, but we now know from his appearance in court that the encounter took place on May 15.
The video begins somewhere in Hackney with Mizzy and friends saying to the camera: “Walking into random houses, let’s go”. It then cuts to a front of a house with the door open and a woman sweeping the patio. Mizzy and friends walk straight past her and in through the open door. You can hear the woman get alarmed and yell to her partner “come to the door right now” as the youths make their way inside. “Is this the study group?” Mizzy innocently asks the partner as he comes up the stairs from where he's been looking after children. Amid the confusion, Mizzy darts into the living room, sits on the sofa and poses. Eventually he and his friends are ushered out by the increasingly distressed owners.
Definitely not a prank, was the overwhelming consensus on social media. There was widespread condemnation of the video as a blatant invasion of privacy, and particular criticism of the fact children were in the house at the time. Others were more extreme in their reactions — some mused about the possible consequences of this happening in the US under its gun laws. “The homeowners should be legally entitled to stab them to death,” tweeted Tristan Tate, brother of influencer and arch misogynist Andrew Tate.
Soon efforts were underway to document Mizzy’s worst videos, in an attempt to get police involved. Three more have now entered the pantheon of terrible pranks. The first, titled ‘How to get a free dog’, shows Mizzy approaching an elderly woman in a park sitting on a bench with a small dog. Mizzy grabs it and sprints off, the dog’s ears flapping wildly in the wind under his arm. The video abruptly ends, but a follow-up shows Mizzy bringing the dog back and apologising as the woman tells him he gave her “a heart attack”.
The second is Mizzy’s previous run-in with the law, when he was arrested for the assault of a Jewish man in Stamford Hill. It starts with a video of Mizzy trying to leapfrog the man from behind at a bus stop, and ends with a clip of Mizzy wearing a hoiche hat while riding a bike, telling the camera: “guys I’m a f**king Jew.”
Finally there’s one of the creepiest — Mizzy approaching two women and a man at Stoke Newington overground station on a bench at night. After touching the hair of one of them, he repeatedly asks them if they “want to die” and implies he has a weapon he could “take out”.
It was that last video that drew the attention of a London MP — Paul Scully, a Conservative who’s in the running to take on Sadiq Khan for mayor at the next election. He posted the clip on Twitter, saying that the government’s new online safety laws would soon make TikTok hosting videos like Mizzy’s illegal. Another MP, Labour shadow minister for culture Alex Davies-Jones, described Mizzy’s content as “abhorrent”.
As the anger grew, the Met Police began investigating. By Monday they’d issued an arrest warrant, forcing Mizzy to hand himself into Bethnal Green station — with friends filming the whole thing of course. He was charged and then fined £365 by a judge at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
The most obvious question is why — why go to such extreme lengths? There’s a well-worn narrative here of someone doing outrageous things for quick fame on the internet. And it was definitely working for Mizzy — his YouTube channel had accumulated 3,000,000 views before it was banned and his Instagram had 80,000 followers. I guess that success offered Mizzy a way out from his difficult upbringing that his lawyer described in court. In a video posted after the house invasion, Mizzy and his friend Sk1tz put it like this:
Sk1tz: "No one was trying to threaten anyone. I know [Mizzy] personally and he has no malicious intent. You're forgetting that he has a son. We're all trying to make it out, bro. We're in the ends, we’re hoodlums. What are we trying to do about it — we're not out here stabbing people up, we're making videos. Pattern up, man."
Mizzy: "Some videos might not be the right approach to things, but look at it now.”
He’s definitely got his supporters — though to be fair a lot of them appear to be schoolchildren. A few of the now-deleted videos on Mizzy’s Youtube channel even showed him sneaking into schools for meet-and-greets. A bastion for Mizzy support throughout the past week has been his dedicated Discord server — a chatroom for his fans that are collectively known as the Mizzlings. As the police closed in on Mizzy, many of the users took to repeatedly posting this message:
If Mizzy has a million fans, then I'm one of them.
If Mizzy has one fan, then I'm THAT ONE.
If Mizzy has no fans, that means I'm dead.
If the world against Mizzy, then I'm against the world.
Those less positive about Mizzy also found the server. A lot came to tell him he’d gone too far, while others just posted racist comments and memes. The issue of racism was highlighted by Mizzy himself during the backlash — in an interview with the Independent before his arrest, he said: “I’m a Black male doing these things and that’s why there’s such an uproar on the internet.”
That angle didn’t particularly resonate with Piers Morgan though, who interviewed him on his TalkTV show on Wednesday evening, shortly after Mizzy left court. “I don’t give a damn about your skin colour … I just think you’re an idiot,” Morgan said in what ended up a pretty chaotic interview.
What Mizzy will do next remains to be seen. He posted a video late on Wednesday saying he’s resigning from pranking for good, though he doesn’t have very much choice in the matter. Aside from the court fine, Mizzy was issued with a two-year criminal behaviour order that bans him from posting videos on social media without the consent of those who feature in them. He’s been ordered not to trespass into private property and also banned from Westfield in Stratford. Who knows though — perhaps another Mizzling may take his place.
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