YouTube star Jake Paul denies that he “engaged in any looting or vandalism” despite being seen with friends on video at an Arizona mall as people around them appeared to be damaging property Saturday night. Demonstrators all over the country continued to protest the death of George Floyd over the weekend, calling for an end to police violence. Floyd died at police hands in Minneapolis early last week.
“To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” the influencer said in a statement posted on Twitter Sunday. The 23-year-old claimed he and his friends “spent the day doing our part to peacefully protest” Floyd’s death and claimed they were tear-gassed for filming the protests.
Floyd died after a police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he moaned that he couldn’t breathe. A viral video of the incident sparked the ongoing protests, some of which have turned violent, all over the nation.
“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,” added Paul. “I do not condone violence, looting or breaking the law.”
However, Paul added in the statement that he understands the “anger and frustration that led to the destruction we witnessed.”
Multiple videos showing Paul and his group at the Arizona mall surfaced on Twitter late Saturday and into Sunday morning. New York Times Reporter Taylor Lorenz was one of many who shared the viral videos on the platform. She claimed the footage showed Paul and his friends “‘looting’ and trashing property in a Scottsdale mall last night amid protests.”
Much of the footage appears to be Instagram stories posted by Paul’s photographer/videographer, Andrew Blue. Blue also put out a statement on his Instagram stories denying their party took part in the alleged looting or vandalism.
The viral videos appear to show Paul walking around both the outside and the inside of the mall wearing a white face mask with a red stripe. Multiple people are seen on camera damaging the property, walking into stores and running around.
The footage doesn’t clearly show if Paul did or didn’t participate in the alleged vandalism or take anything from the businesses.
Paul is no stranger to public incidents and viral moments. He recently admitted his brief supposed marriage to YouTube star Tana Mongeau last year was fake, after speculation the nuptials were a publicity stunt, according to Entertainment Tonight. Earlier this year, Paul alleged he and former One Direction member Zayn Malik, had a tense interaction in Las Vegas. Malik’s model girlfriend, Gigi Hadid, later called Paul out on Twitter for his comments, reports ET.