Jake Paul is denying that he took part in looting captured on video at an Arizona mall after backlash about his appearance sprung up online.
In multiple videos posted to Instagram and Twitter, Paul and members of his crew are seen outside and inside an Arizona mall where looting is taking place. It remained unclear from the videos whether Paul and his team were actively involved in any looting, but commenters on social media, including prominent members of the YouTube community, criticized Paul for his appearance at the scene regardless. Paul’s new statement claims that “neither I, nor anyone in our group, was engaged in any looting or vandalism.”
“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 wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “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.”
Paul’s statement is already being met with pushback. People brought up important questions about Paul’s actions, including why Paul decided to focus his filming on looting happening at a mall in Arizona as opposed to other protests being held around the city that shine a better light on what people are fighting for this weekend?
Paul notes in his statement that “we are all doing the best we can to be helpful and raise awareness,” but choosing to focus on an activity that other protesters have condemned around the country is where a number of people are taking issue. American musician David Lee Crow (better known as Ghastly) tweeted, “Jake Paul came to my state last night to not peacefully protest in downtown (where it was organized by BLM) but went directly to the looting in Scottsdale and brazenly bragged about it on his socials.”
“This is an opportunity to change our world not grow your dog shit brand,” Crow tweeted.
Even if Paul wasn’t actively looting, the fact that he can potentially use footage he captured for his own gain, including the promotion of his own channel, is offensive to people around the world, protesters in cities across the country, and other YouTubers. This isn’t the first time that Paul has caught flack for seemingly using news stories that center on human suffering as “content fodder for his channel” either, reporter Abby Ohlheiser pointed out.
“Jake Paul looting and using the death of unarmed black men by police for vlog views is disgusting but it’s exactly who he is,” Zach Sang, a popular interviewer and personality, tweeted. “He didn’t march in solidarity with anyone he showed up hours after to loot a mall for views. Jake cares about no one but himself [and] money. He needs help.”
Jake Paul is a YouTube creator and influencer with a massive audience — he has over 20 million subscribers on YouTube, 3.7 million followers on Twitter, and over 13 million followers on Instagram. It’s an empire that’s helped Paul generate tens of millions of dollars over the last several years. Many people on Twitter are now asking for YouTube to take action against Paul.
Paul also has the privilege of reaching an audience that mainstream news networks like CNN or the New York Times might not; typically a younger audience who tunes in to watch whatever he posts. 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 — again, condemned by protesters in every city — is why so many people are outraged.
“Jake Paul (a white millionaire) using the BLM protests to loot for his own gain,” YouTuber and podcast host Jack Dean tweeted.