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Who Is Furry Potato? New Details About Zhoie Perez, The YouTuber Who Was Shot Outside A Synagogue

Photo: YouTube
Who Is Zhoie Perez? New Details About The YouTuber Who Was Shot Outside A Synagogue

Zhoie Perez, a “fringe” YouTuber, was shot while she filmed herself outside a Los Angeles synagogue last Thursday. Perez was live-streaming a confrontation between herself and a security guard on her YouTube channel, “Furry Potato.”

In the video, Perez loiters outside the Etz Jacob Congregation/Ohel Chana High School building for nearly 40 minutes. A guard asks her what she’s doing and why she’s filming, but she does not respond. The guard warns her to “stay away,” leaves, then comes back by the gate. He is heard saying, “I’m going to shoot you.”

Perez then posted a second video with a guard holding a gun, pointed to the ground. Perez says, “This guard just pulled a gun out on me, everybody.”

The guard asks why she’s there recording him and the institution … then says “Get away” before firing his gun one time. He hit Perez in her right leg later in the video. When she is handcuffed to a gurney in an ambulance, a gunshot is visible. Police identified the security guard as Edduin Zelagrunfeld, 44, and arrested him on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. 

But the security guard has not been legally charged. Los Angeles prosecutors released a statement after she filed a civil lawsuit against her guard and employer. LAPD conducted the investigation into the matter and they made the decision to reject pressing charges against the guard. Deputy District Attourney John Harlan said in the memorandum that they would not be able to disprove that the security guard was acting in self-defense.

So who is Zhoie Perez or Furry Potato and what was she doing outside of the synagogue?

We have all the details here. 

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1. She’s a transgender woman.

Perez, 45, posted a video entitled “Furry Potato’s Coming Out” on Feb. 20, 2018. It is one of her first videos on her YouTube channel. She says early on in the video that she wanted to end the rumors.

“As you can tell I am a transgendered woman, that means, for those of you that have lived under a rock over the past ten years, uh, I was born a male body, female brain, and has decided to have the outside match the inside,” she says. Perez is wearing a shirt that says “Transgender Veteran” on it.

She explains that she didn’t initially come out when starting her channel because she wanted to be known primarily as a “first amendment auditor.”

2. She’s a self-described “1st Amendment Auditor.”

In her “About” section on her YouTube channel, Perez calls herself a “1st Amendment Auditor.” In her coming out video mentioned above, she clarifies that it was not her intention to be a trans auditor.

“My whole purpose was to educate others about our rights, and about how people are trying to squash them, trying to turn us into ‘sheeple’ instead of individuals.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the trend of first amendment auditing began within the past two years. The newspaper reached out to Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center on Hate and Extremism, to explain what it means. When people like Perez “audit,” they often “provoke police or others near sensitive locations who might challenge their right to assemble or film in a public space.” Levin also mentioned the use of social media as a “leverage.”

“What’s interesting is, [auditing] can go across the ideological spectrum,” Levin said. “It’s a movement, but it’s broad.”

At one end of the spectrum, people are focused on the right to bear arms openly. Overall, however, “auditing” seems to be more centered on social media —specifically following — than politics. The Daily Beast reported that it’s “a highly competitive online industry,” as more and more “auditors” are getting more and more aggressive with their confrontations with authorities in the hopes of eliciting a reaction to generate fame.

3. As of Tuesday, she has over 19,000 subscribers.

Shortly after the incident on Thursday, Perez had over 17,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, which she gained over the span of a year. As of Tuesday, her following count has jumped to over 19,600 subscribers. Her total view count is over 3 million across 250 videos.

She also has an Instagram, but it’s not active.

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4. She was arrested in June 2018.

Perez was arrested June 12 on suspicion of terrorizing someone and causing fear.

At first, the incident was treated as a hate crime. She was at the US Marine Corps recruiting office in Valencia, California, and according to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, allegedly made verbal threats at a black recruiter.

Paul Eakins, the spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, told The Signal in early December, “Today in a negotiated plea agreement, defendant Zhoie Perez pleaded no contest to one infraction count of disturbing the peace. The original four misdemeanor counts were dismissed. She was ordered to pay a $100 fine plus a penalty assessment.”

5. Perez was seeking $10,000 for “auditing” and her transition.

She has links to her PayPal and a GoFundMe campaign on her YouTube channel. The GoFundMe campaign began a year ago; its purpose is “for my auditing indeavors [sic] and for my transition as well.”

Over the span of a year, Perez raised $3,685. She posted a video seven months ago that her goal had been reached, and thanked those that had donated to her cause. However, within the past 7 months, people have continued to contribute to her fundraising efforts.

“Ernest Craige” donated $100 on Sunday, three days after she was shot.

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Alison Cerri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on February 20, 2019 and was updated with the latest information.