The veteran asks the teen to “watch his stuff” as he cleans up at a nearby shop. A few minutes later he returns, bringing a slice of pizza for the boy. Little did he know that the “homeless teen” was actually part of a social experiment, set up by two brothers from Brooklyn.
Mohammed “Moe” and Etayyim “ET” Etayyim became YouTube celebrities for filming a series of prank videos starting in early 2014. They have also made seven “social experiment” videos highlighting child abuse, bigotry and the treatment of the homeless.
At one point, a man in a striped polo shirt and a fedora rebuffs the veteran, sneering at his plea that he “served his country.”
“You served your country?” the man says, before dumping the contents of his takeout box onto the unfortunate veteran.“Here’s something that served your country. How is that about serving your country?”
Asking Omar to watch his possessions as he cleans up, the veteran returns shortly with a slice of pizza for the boy – at which point Moe and ET reveal themselves. Hugging the veteran, they hand him the contents of Omar’s cup and another $200 to get a hotel room.
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel,”the video’s parting message reads.
Residents of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood and sons of a Palestinian immigrant, the Etayyim brothers previously attracted attention of local media in June 2014, after being criticized by community activists for filming their prank videos in African-American neighborhoods of Brownsville and East New York.
One activist said the brothers were “putting their lives in jeopardy,” according to the New York Daily News. In one video, for example, the brothers went up to random people and asked if they “had a problem.”
Homelessness is a serious problem in New York City, with an estimated 60,000 people – 25,000 of them children – sleeping in a shelter each night, according to a March 2015 report from the Coalition for the Homeless.
Some 300 city workers have been forced into shelters or on the streets, unable to afford the skyrocketing rents, according to a recent report by the New York Post. Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to provide them with permanent housing.