YouTuber Jake Paul has been charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly after several videos showed him at an Arizona mall while it was being looted and vandalized.
The 23-year-old internet personality was “in attendance and remained inside of the [Fashion Square Mall] after an unlawful assembly was declared,” according to a Facebook post from the Scottsdale Police Department.
Paul responded to the charges on Twitter, writing, “Gimme my charges and let’s put the focus back on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.”
On May 31, before he was charged, Paul also took to Twitter to issue a statement denying any involvement in the looting or vandalism.
“To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” Paul said in the statement. Rather, the vlogger claims that he and his friends were at the mall to “peacefully protest” and “[film] the events and brutality that were unfolding in Arizona” in the wake of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
“We were gassed and forced to keep moving on foot,” Paul continued. “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 has faced significant backlash for what many people perceive as a tone-deaf publicity stunt.
“There’s no other way to put it, you are trying to profit off of a black man losing his life,” one person said. “You want to capture something shocking for views, that’s all it is.”
“Jake Paul getting what he’s deserved for a long time,” another person added. “He used this event to further himself. Never f****** forget this.”
Court records from the city of Scottsdale note that Paul’s arraignment is set to take place on July 8, according to CNN.
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