NBC News reports YouTuber Jake Paul released a statement on Sunday after footage of him at a looted Arizona mall surfaced amid claims he and his friends were among those doing the looting.
“To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” Paul said in a statement.
Paul said he and his friends spent the day joining in peaceful protests of “one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen,” according to the statement. The video surfaced as protests and looting broke out across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) May 31, 2020
“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 said.
Paul released the statement after video of him and his friends outside the mall, and later, inside the mall, went viral on social media.
The mall, reportedly Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Arizona, was being vandalized as Paul stood by and filmed. It was not clear if Paul took anything from the mall or destroyed any property.
The YouTube star is seen wearing a mask while those around him set off fireworks and break glass at the mall.
Later, Paul is seen walking around inside the mall while filming. In an Instagram story, Paul also said he was tear gassed by police officers.
YouTube star Jake Paul and his friends were caught “looting” and trashing property in a Scottsdale mall last night amid protests pic.twitter.com/KyrE87TvA9
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) May 31, 2020