Videos of YouTube star Jake Paul and his friends allegedly looting a Scottsdale, Arizona mall on Saturday night during George Floyd protests went viral on social media, with many denouncing the popular internet personality. The footage was originally posted on Instagram by Andrew Blue, Paul's videographer, and appears to show Paul walking by a P.F. Chang's restaurant and joining other looters in trashing the mall. Paul later issued a statement, claiming his group was not involved in looting.
The Instagram videos received were seen more than 11 million times on Twitter and have since been deleted on Blue's Instagram page. The videos show people entering stores in the mall and taking items. At one point, a person close to the camera is heard yelling "give me a free cologne" when they pass a Sephora store. Paul also published his own videos from the night, and is heard yelling "bunch of f—ing idiots" toward police, reports BuzzFeed.
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
Blue and Paul both posted statements on social media and claimed no one in their group was involved in looting or vandalizing. "We were strictly documenting the situation and doing our part to use our platform to raise awareness about this horrific event and the overall injustice," Blue wrote. "Nobody with us was looting or vandalizing, but it was certainly tragic to see and while we understand the frustration, we don't condone or support any behavior like that."
More video of Jake Paul’s escapades last night pic.twitter.com/KyrE87TvA9— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) May 31, 2020
Paul's statement was similar, with him claiming his group was "strictly documenting" the scene and he does "not condone violence, looting or breaking the law." In the end, Paul wrote, "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 he may have thought this statement would have put the criticism on hold, it did not. Thousands of Twitter users accused him of taking advantage of a situation to create new YouTube content for revenue. Others asked him what organizations he plans on donating to.
"You are on camera with a bottle of vodka looted from a PF Chang’s," rapper Elijah Daniel wrote. "What movement are you part of? What organizations do you donate to and support?" Internet personality Hannah Hart asked. "How about donating some of your millions of dollars that you always flex on your child audience then??? How dare you take advantage of this cause to loot and make content," another Twitter user chimed in.
The Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, where Paul's videos were filmed, was closed Sunday due to the looting, police told KTAR. Scottsdale police declared an unlawful assembly. Phoenix police did the same after there were reports of loud bangs during protests there. The protests followed the death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Protesters have also gathered to protest the death of Dion Johnson, who was shot by a Phoenix trooper on the highway on May 25.