YouTube star Jake Paul has responded to social media backlash after some alleged he was looting and destroying property during protests in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Last night, Paul and his friends were broadcasting live as they followed protests throughout the area, eventually arriving at the Fashion Square Mall as stores were robbed and demolished.
While Paul is not seen directly participating in any looting or vandalism, he is featured prominently in many videos on social media—and fans expressed their outrage with the YouTuber, saying he was exploiting a social justice movement for his own internet clout.
"The BLM movement is NOT an opportunity for you to film a youtube video and post it for revenue," one Twitter user said.
"Sooooo what about the alcohol you guys looted from @PFChangs? #jakepaulisoverparty," tweeted another, referencing video recordings circulating the internet that allegedly shows Paul being handed a bottle of vodka as someone exited the burglarized business.
The clip, which has been shared by various accounts, was pulled from Paul's videographer, Andrew Blue's since-deleted Instagram stories.
"Living in AZ I can tell you that the actual protest was in downtown Phoenix," another wrote. "No matter what he says... this was an opportunity to green light destruction of property and vandalism in the name of something he wasn't representing. He should be ashamed and reprimanded."
On Sunday, Paul took to Twitter to share a statement to his 3.7 million followers.
"To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism," Paul wrote. "For context, we spent the day doing our part to peacefully 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. 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."
He continued: "I do not condone violence, looting or breaking the law; however, I understand the anger and frustration that led to the destruction that 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."
While some fans have come to Paul's defense, others quickly stepped in and double-down on calling out his behavior.
"Ur crazy. He RECORDED LOOTING!" one outraged person tweeted. "He's a MILLIONAIRE. This movement...these riots...and protests aren't some STUNT for attention. Lives are at stake. White ppl like u are a part of the system that killed George Floyd."