The content creator was seen at the Fashion Square mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, where people were breaking into stores and taking merchandise.
YouTube community members and others online were highly critical of the footage, leading both Mr Paul and his videographer, Andrew Blue, to put out statements denying that anyone in their group was looting or vandalising property and that they were only present to document events.
“To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism. For context, we spent the day doing our part to peacefully protest one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen,” Mr Paul later wrote.
Andrew Blue said: “Just for clarity, I am a videographer and my job is to document virtually everything. We were strictly documenting the situation and doing our part to use our platform to raise awareness about this horrific event and the overall injustice.”
He added: “Nobody with us was looting or vandalising but it was certainly tragic to see and while we understand the frustration, we don’t condone or support any behaviour like that.”
Jake Paul in the Middle of Looting at Arizona Mall https://t.co/JWLF7u4R8r— TMZ (@TMZ)May 31, 2020
Nevertheless, online commentators have criticised Mr Paul’s presence at the mall, the potential for the footage to be monetised on his YouTube channel, and the argument that showing sensationalist footage raises awareness.
Julia Alexander, a reporter for the Verge, wrote: “Paul could have shone a light on peaceful protests happening, instead chose to capture looting at a mall. Doing so ignores what protesters are actually trying to accomplish.”
There are ways in which YouTubers with big platforms - that reach audiences CNN or local news or the NYT don’t - can show and talk about the protests and riots. Choosing to follow the most sensationalist footage that doesn’t encompass what people are fighting for is wrong.— Julia Alexander (@loudmouthjulia)May 31, 2020