Star YouTuber Jake Paul has been charged with criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly following a video in which he accompanies looters and rioters in Arizona.
On May 30, Paul and his friends attended peaceful protests in Scottsdale, Arizona before eventually following people into the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall—where huge crowds stole merchandise and vandalized shops. Although Paul’s camp has been adamant that they took no part in the looting or rioting, they still did participate in the trespassing.
Unsurprisingly, Paul’s team filmed everything as “an effort to share our experience and bring more attention to the anger felt in every neighborhood we traveled through,” as he explained on Twitter.
#BREAKING: YouTuber Jake Paul has been charged with criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly after video shows him alongside looters in Scottsdale. STORY: https://t.co/L5gwQ4sQcA #abc15 pic.twitter.com/5hlCK1dznU
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) June 4, 2020
While hoping for great content, the influencer has now been charged with the aforementioned two misdemeanors, criminal trespassing, and unlawful assembly, since he was easily identified as one of the many still in the mall past its closing time.
In an explanation tweet, he clarified that while primarily there for the peaceful protest and then interests in documenting, he does "not condone violence, looting, or breaking the law." It's unclear whether that semblance of morality will stack up in a court of law, but it does go against conflicting rumors that he did in fact partake in the looting.
Given videos circulating in which Paul was seen obtaining a bottle of vodka from someone who snuck into a PF Chang's, the controversial YouTuber has continued to have his motives questioned.
Many have discredited him for turning a nationwide movement into personal content and for simply going along for the looting ride without caring about the root of its energy. Those critiques are understandable given the Pauls' history, but hard to verify.
For his own part, Jake has responded to the charges levied against him in the correct way: accepting them and wanting to move past them so that they do not distract from the real issues at hand.
gimme my charges and let’s put the focus back on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter https://t.co/nwBZmsxFFz
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) June 4, 2020
Perhaps due to community pressure, perhaps due to personal growth, Paul has thus far not turned these charges into easy vlog content about his martyrdom in an exploration of his day trespassing and subsequent criminal litigation.
Since the looting incident, his tweets have been centered around amplifying attention for the Black Lives Matter movement and he has been seen attending protests as well as raising money for charity. He can handle the misdemeanor charges and social media backlash, hopefully he'll continue using his platform for good once both blow over.