YouTuber Jake Paul has been arrested and charged by Arizona Police after being positively identified as a member of a crowd of rioters who participated in looting at a Scottsdale mall.
Like many protests across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd, what began as a peaceful gathering on May 30th in Scottsdale, AZ, slowly devolved into an outbreak of violence, looting, and rioting. Near physical center of these protests was the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, which quickly and unsurprisingly became a popular target for opportunistic rioters who took to causing property damage and looting the stores inside.
In videos posted to his social media accounts on the night of the riot, Paul can be seen at the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall observing the chaos unfold:
jake paul: i got tear gassed 🙁
also jake paul: pic.twitter.com/6aKZBW3RHH
— elijah daniel (@elijahdaniel) May 31, 2020
Paul cannot be seen actively looting or vandalizing any property, and the influencer has denied that “I, nor anyone in our group, was engaged in any looting or vandalism”, claiming that he and his team “were strictly documenting, not engaging.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Paul wrote, “To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism.”
It continued, “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 us to 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,” Paul’s statement read.
He then wrote, “I do not condone violence, looting, or breaking the law; however, I understand the anger and frustration that led to the destruction 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.”
Paul concluded, “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.”
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) May 31, 2020
Unfortunately for Paul, his social media videos were quickly reported to law enforcement, prompting an investigation by the Scottsdale Police Department into his presence at the riot.
On June 4th, the official Twitter account of the Scottsdale PD announced Paul had been positively identified as having been “in attendance & remained inside after an unlawful assembly was declared” and that he had “been charged with Criminal Trespass & Unlawful Assembly.”
We’ve received 100s of tips in response to the events at @ScottsdaleFS. In our continued investigation it was confirmed that Jake Paul was in attendance & remained inside after an unlawful assembly was declared & has been charged with Criminal Trespass & Unlawful Assembly. pic.twitter.com/ySPmZT7ADv
— ScottsdalePD (@ScottsdalePD) June 4, 2020
In response to the newly filed charges, first reported by ABC15 Arizona, Paul asked that authorities “gimme my charges” so that the public could “put the focus back on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.”
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