Multiple white social media users have come under fire after they were caught posing for photos in front of damaged buildings following the nationwide protests over the May 25 killing of George Floyd in police custody.
On June 1, a woman identified as former Washington Examiner reporter Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin was recorded engaging in a self-promotional photo opportunity outside of a storefront in Santa Monica, Calif. One day later, it was revealed she was fired from her position at the conservative publication.
In footage shared by Twitter user @ewufortheloss, Moriarty-McLaughlin can be seen standing outside of a shop next to a man, who was clearly in the process of boarding up the store’s windows to protect against looting.
Moriarty-McLaughlin held up the man’s drill while posing for a photo taken by an unidentified male, believed to be the journalist’s boyfriend.
She then handed the drill back to the worker before hopping into her Mercedes with her male companion and driving off.
“This lady stopped someone boarding up a store in Santa Monica so she could hold the drill for a picture, then drove away,” ewufortheloss captioned the video. “Please don’t do this.”
“The problem here is that she’s 1) using this terrible situation to promote herself instead of the man who’s actually helping and 2) completely insensitive to racial / class tensions,” they added. “Influencers: use your platform for ACTUAL good, not the PERCEPTION of good.”
The clip, which has since been viewed over 27.8 million times, sparked outrage on Twitter.
“Wow, that’s vile,” wrote Walter Shaub, the former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics.
“She’s just going to say she was helping a cause she wasn’ t… that alone is weird,” commented another user. “Also she wore a mask for her picture but removed it and talked directly into the guys exposed eyes while he was clearly wearing a mask.”
“Sad and cringy,” said a third.
On June 1, another white woman was put on blast for taking travel-esque photos in front of a looted Santa Monica T-Mobile store in yoga pants, a pink sports bra and sandals.
Nicole Baio, who filmed the incident, ripped the tone-deaf act on Twitter.“White women continue to disappoint,” she wrote. “These protesters are not a content opportunity for you.”
Many commenters asserted that the “clout-chasing” woman lacked any sort of self-awareness. Others slammed the photo-op as “performative activism,” calling it disparaging to the millions of people putting themselves in danger to protest against brutality and systemic racism toward the Black community, especially in the wake of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
“How do you gentrify oppression?” one man questioned.
“I’m 100% certain this picture is going to end up on Instagram with an out-of-context MLK Jr. quote that seems to say we should all just be nice to each other. Or maybe a random platitude about ‘love,’” said another.
“They are taking advantage of the protests for a photo op for their own gain (to appear ‘woke’, present in the situation, etc),” one woman explained. “They are also using their louder-through-privilege voices when posting this image to speak over POC at this time so they can advertise themselves. Gross.”
If you’re looking for a way to make a difference, check out our roundup of ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
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