YouTube star Jake Paul has formally been charged after he was caught on camera looting amid George Floyd protests in Scottsdale, Arizona over the weekend. On Thursday, Scottsdale police announced that the 23-year-old influencer had been charged with criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly, both of which are misdemeanor charges, ABC 15 reports. Paul has not yet responded to this latest development in the case.
According to authorities, they confirmed that Paul was identified as being present during the looting, his identity confirmed through hundreds of tips and videos sent to officials. Officials said that he "was present after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and the rioters were ordered to leave the area by police." He reportedly unlawfully entered and remained inside Scottsdale Fashion Square mall when it was closed.
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
On Saturday, large crowds had gathered in the streets of Scottsdale in a demonstration against police brutality and systemic racism. Sparked in response to the police killing of George Floyd — the unarmed black man who was killed after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes — the peaceful protests eventually escalated into violence. In video recorded by Paul's videographer Andrew Blue, according to BuzzFeed, and shared to Twitter by New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz, Paul was spotted near a P.F. Chang's by the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall. In another clip, he was seen entering the mall as others vandalized the shopping center and looted from the various stores. The YouTuber had even shared images to his Instagram Story showing police mobilizing outside of the mall and later claimed that he had been tear gassed.
As the video sparked outrage across social media, many condemning Paul for undermining what was meant to be an important and peaceful call for justice, the 23-year-old took to social media to inadvertently address what had occurred and the backlash he received. In a statement, Paul wrote that he does not "condone violence, looting or breaking the law," though he understood "the anger and frustration that led to the destruction we witnessed." Acknowledging that "it's not the answer," he said "it's important that people see it and collectively figure out how to move forward in a healthy way."