Jake Paul denies looting after YouTube star spotted in crowd outside trashed stores in Arizona

Oliver O'Connell
YouTube star Jake Paul seen at a mall in Arizona during looting after Saturday's nationwide protests about the death of George Floyd: TMZ

YouTube star Jake Paul has denied being involved in looting after being filmed at a mall during unrest that broke out after nationwide protests about the death of George Floyd on Saturday.

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.”

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.”