OSU's Zed Key, CPD's Anthony Johnson show 'we're stronger together' with dance video

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State's Zed Key is becoming a fan favorite for things like celebrating and-one opportunities with a finger guns celebration, as he does here last January against Michigan State.

The groundwork for their viral collaboration was laid with basketball and water balloons.

In late July Ohio State men’s basketball player Zed Key went to the Far East Rec Center to participate in an outreach event designed to foster healthy relationships between the community and its police officers. While he was there playing basketball, he spotted Anthony Johnson trying to avoid getting soaked by kids with water balloons. Together, the two struck up a relationship that ultimately led to a brief dance, recorded and shared on social media.

The two had a clear goal for the dialogue they hoped the ensuing posts would create.

Johnson is a biracial, light-skinned Columbus police officer. Key is a second-year Black student-athlete from Long Island, New York.

“With everything that’s been going on, 2020, there’s still a lot of people that have mixed feelings, but to see an athlete interact with police officers, it can be good for us, helping the community and them helping the community too,” Key said.

The clip lasts 15 seconds. Standing on a paved path leading into the woods, Key and Johnson dance to “Offended” by Juice Armani. It’s a few straightforward moves for a pair of guys who consider themselves limited dancers, Key in a scarlet Ohio State shirt and Johnson in uniform.

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Since it was posted Sept. 24 on Johnson’s social media channels, it has racked up nearly 20,000 views on TikTok and more than 2,500 likes on Instagram. As soon as the two met, Johnson said he could feel the kinship of two people who are passionate about pouring joy into their community.

“I just like to spread positivity any chance that I get,” Johnson said. “I understand the importance of that. I also understand that if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. Him being an athlete at The Ohio State University and me being a police officer in the major city that the university sits in, for us to get together and not only have fun but to show people our human side, that matters.”

Johnson’s TikTok page has 1.3 million followers while his Instagram page has 160,000. Both have the same username (@ohnoitsdapopo) and message: “I grew up in the same streets I now protect.” By doing videos like this, Johnson said he hopes to help break down stereotypes that can divide communities.

Columbus police officer Anthony Johnson has 1.3 million followers on TikTok, where he posts under the handle @ohnoitsdapopo.

“If we can link arms together, we’re unstoppable,” he said. “I think that video is a perfect representation of that. Not only can we be together, but we have fun together, and we can work towards shared goals and interests as well.”

Police officers and college athletes face similar challenges, Johnson said, both often expected to operate within a certain box with certain expectations. Neither Johnson nor Key necessarily fits the mold, making them natural collaborators. Johnson works hard to break stereotypes; and Key, a car junkie who can build an engine, has a pet snake, and who celebrates and-one opportunities with a “finger guns” celebration is much more than a conventional athlete.

When Johnson was recognized during last weekend’s home football game against Maryland, Key posted a video to his social media of himself waving at his dance partner.

“We’re in the same situation,” Key said. “(Working together) can be beneficial for both of us.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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