YouTube star Jake Paul has come under fire after appearing to be involved in the riots and looting that are sweeping across the United States.
The death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck, has sent shockwaves through America and led to widespread protests, some of which have developed into looting and riots.
The developments have caused many US cities to implement curfews in efforts to curb the riots. On May 31, YouTube star Jake Paul appeared to be filmed taking part in some of the looting, leading to widespread condemnation.
Update, May 31, 3:30pm EST: Jake Paul has now issued a statement responding to the allegations, in which he denies taking part in any looting or rioting.
One tweet shows Jake Paul present in Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Arizona, as fireworks are being set off by protesters. Fashion Square is now totally closed as protests continue.
“Some people were saying Jake Paul didn’t stay,” the tweet’s caption reads, “or wasn’t doing anything wrong but here he is very clearly at Fashion Square lighting fireworks with friends. All of this for content.”
YouTuber Adam22 also spoke out about the videos spreading of Jake, calling the footage “pretty ridiculous.”
Another tweet appears to show protesters throwing objects at a building, with Jake Paul stood nearby. The caption criticizes Paul for being present while he is incredibly wealthy: “He’s a millionaire looting while people are outside protesting, getting shot with rubber bullets, teargas, beat by cops.”
It’s not entirely clear what Paul was doing at the riots, whether he was actually taking part, or was seeking to document the events for upcoming YouTube videos.
Regardless, a host of internet users were critical of Paul’s presence, stating that someone with his platform should not be present at all, and accusing him of trying to exploit the disturbances for his own gain.
“Jake Paul films himself looting during protests of the murder of an innocent black man,” one user said. “The Pauls are the embodiment of white privilege. Profiting off of others suffering and getting away with it.”
Another commented that: “Jake Paul has a 19 million dollar net worth and a giant platform consisting of mainly kids, and he’s out here looting whilst others get teargassed and beat? F**k off he really isn’t sh*t”.
It remains unclear whether Paul was just a bystander or was actively taking part in the disturbances, but his presence alone has been enough for many to criticize the 23-year-old.