Late on May 30, videos began to surface of YouTube personality Jake Paul and his friend posse inside and outside of a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, which were filmed by the group and posted to their official social media accounts. In the videos, Paul and his friends were surrounded by people who were actively participating in looting and vandalism, but there was no footage to suggest that Paul’s group joined in. However, after a significant outcry about Paul choosing to document the scene — likely for the purposes of getting material for a video blog — the YouTuber issued a statement this afternoon to assert he didn’t engage in any illegal activities. Paul also said that he was present earlier in the day at the city’s official Black Lives Matter protest, which took a violent turn and led to him being tear-gassed “for filming the events and brutality that was unfolding.”
“We filmed everything we saw in an effort to share our experience and bring more attention to the anger felt in every neighborhood we traveled through; we were strictly documenting, not engaging,” Paul’s statement read. “I do not condone violence, looting, or breaking the law; however, I understand the anger and frustration that led to the destruction we witnessed, and while it’s not the answer, it’s important that people see it and collectively figure out how to move forward in a healthy way.” He added that “we are all doing the best we can to be helpful and raise awareness. This is not the time to attack each other, it’s time to join together and evolve.”
Unlike Paul, plenty of other celebrities peacefully protested over the weekend and didn’t feel the need to document looters on their robust social-media pages. The likes of Ariana Grande, Michael B. Jordon, John Cusack, and Emily Ratajkowski showed up around the country to demand justice for George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25.