If there’s one corner of Spooky TikTok I know not to visit at night, it’s the one that likes to show videos of demonic possession. Maybe I saw The Exorcist too young as a child. Or maybe I just like the idea of keeping my body to myself. But there’s is something seriously unsettling about any videos that purport to show a spirit getting anywhere near a body it doesn’t belong to.
Perhaps that is why this video has become such a viral smash hit. But what’s really going on here?
In the video, a woman being arrested by Border Control seems to revert to a bizarre, animalistic state, lunging furiously at her captors, growling and hissing. As they attempt to close the door on their van, shutting her inside, she speaks to them in a raspy, low voice, saying “I don’t understand what you’re telling me.”
The caption of the video claims she was arrested for "human trafficking" and "tried to plead insanity by saying she was possessed." But is any of this true?
Though this video has circulated widely, including using clips in parody skits and under hashtags about “Karens behaving badly,” it is difficult to discover its true provenance.
The earliest posting online comes from the Twitter account of journalist Ali Bradley, who covers the southwest United States for cable channel News Nation. On February 7, 2022, she posted the full-length clip below, with the caption, “US Border Patrol tells me this woman was arrested for human smuggling in Carrizo Springs last week.”(Carrizo Springs is a small Texas border town.)
However, most outlets that ran with this story, and the viral TikTok video, claim she is a “human trafficker.” This is a large logical leap. Under federal law, trafficking and smuggling are two entirely different crimes. Smuggling refers to illegal border crossings only, while human trafficking refers to forced labor, service, and sex acts that may or may not include transportation.
It is no more clear that this woman is a “human trafficker” than it is clear that she is actually possessed by a demon. She could be under the influence of some drug, or be having a mental health crisis, or is even faking her behavior. But once these videos go viral on the internet, all context—let alone any chance at getting the truth—is often lost.
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