YouTuber Jake Paul came under fire after a video emerged on Twitter of him being around looters in an Arizona mall on Saturday night.
The YouTuber posted videos to his Instagram story showing him protesting outside and facing police officers who threw tear gas toward him. He captioned the video “america is in ruins” and “what can we do,” then posted a photo of his face saying “I’m tear gassed my eyes bleeding.”
Later, a video of looters at the Fashion Square mall in Scottsdale, Ariz., emerged on Twitter and showed Paul and others watching damage being to the exterior of a P.F. Chang’s restaurant. Someone in the video recognizes Paul and takes a photo with him. The same video later shows Paul walking around inside the mall as more looting takes place.
YouTube star Jake Paul and his friends were caught “looting” and trashing property in a Scottsdale mall last night amid protests pic.twitter.com/KyrE87TvA9
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) May 31, 2020
The YouTuber was not seen causing damage in the video, but many people on Twitter called him out for being around the looting, and his name became trending on Twitter Sunday morning.
Paul issued a statement on his Twitter account Sunday, emphasizing that he and his group were not looting and merely documenting what was going on.
“To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism. For context, we spent the day doing our part to peaceful protest one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen, which led to us being tear-gassed for filming the events and brutality that were unfolding in Arizona,” Paul wrote. “We were gassed and forced to keep moving on foot. 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. 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. 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.”
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) May 31, 2020