YouTuber Jake Paul Criticized for Filming Arizona Mall Looting

Paul has issued an apology, which struck many as disingenuous

Jake Paul
Jake Paul in 2019.
Erik Drost/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / May 31, 2020 4:18 pm

This weekend has seen a number of protests in response to the death of George Floyd β€” and, more broadly, to police brutality and institutional racism β€” take place across the country. Some have been peaceful; others have been marred by shocking acts of violence on the part of the police. Some high-profile figures have responded by promising aid to the protestors; at least one high-profile figure responded in the most tone-deaf manner imaginable.

And then there’s YouTube celebrity Jake Paul. Paul has come under criticism today after posting videos of looting in a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona last night. As Julia Alexander writes at The Verge, the videos are ambiguous as far as whether or not Paul and his entourage were engaged in the acts themselves. Nonetheless, Paul opted to respond via Twitter.

“For context, we spent the day doing our part to peacefully protest one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen,” Paul wrote. This struck a dissonant note with some observers, including musician David Lee Crow, aka Ghastly. Ghastly pointed out that Paul was absent from a nonviolent downtown protest, organized by Black Lives Matter.

As Alexander notes, Ghastly was one voice among many arguing that Paul was, essentially, exploiting a politically-charged situation for the sake of his own brand. Given that Paul doesn’t have the greatest record when it comes to matters of race in America, to put it mildly, it’s not hard to see why this criticism has hit home. Alexander makes a succinct point when summarizing the controversy:

Shedding light on what’s happening around the world is a big responsibility, and foregoing that responsibility to hone in on just one part of what people are seeing β€” again, condemned by protesters in every city β€” is why so many people are outraged.

It’s one more frustrating moment for a minor celebrity who’s come to be characterized by them.

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