Jake Paul is speaking out after he was spotted at a looted Arizona mall on Saturday. The 23-year-old YouTuber had participated in a protest over the killing of George Floyd, who was killed on Monday after a police officer pinned him down by the neck in Minneapolis.
Paul issued a statement on Sunday in response to the backlash of the video of him amid looters, saying "neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism." The video showed people vandalizing a P.F. Chang's restaurant at the Fashion Square mall in Scottsdale, Arizona. Paul was also seen walking inside the mall as more looting took place.
"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 to us being tear-gassed for filming the events and brutality that were unfolding in Arizona," Paul said. "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."
"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," he added. "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."
Floyd died after a police officer held him down by the neck with his knee for more than seven minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
In the wake of the deaths of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, celebs have been using their platforms to speak out about police brutality. Some, like Chrissy Teigen, Seth Rogen and Steve Carell, have donated money to help bail out protestors, while others, like Ariana Grande, Halsey and Emily Ratajkowski, have joined the protests themselves.
See more in the video below.