The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

YouTuber Jake Paul charged in connection with ‘riot’ after police receive ‘hundreds of tips’

Jake Paul speaks at a news conference in January in Los Angeles. (JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Police in Scottsdale, Ariz., charged YouTuber Jake Paul on Thursday with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly connected with the looting of a mall that occurred Saturday night amid a wave of protests across the nation calling for justice in the death of George Floyd. Both charges are misdemeanors.

We “received hundreds of tips and videos identifying [Paul] as a participant in the riot,” the Scottsdale Police Department told The Washington Post in a statement. “Our investigation has revealed that Paul was present after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and the rioters were ordered to leave the area by the police. Paul also unlawfully entered and remained inside of the mall when it was closed.”

Paul did not respond to The Post’s request for comment. He has been “issued a summons to appear in court in a month,” Sgt. Ben Hoster told The Post.

Videos showing the 23-year-old YouTube star at the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall began circulating on the Internet after his videographer Andrew Blue posted them as an Instagram story (which means they disappeared after 24 hours). They showed Paul, wearing a mask and wandering around the mall as looters smashed store windows and, in one instance, broke the windows of a car on display.

It is unclear if Paul participated in the looting or vandalism.

In one video, Paul said he took part in protests earlier and was tear-gassed by police officers, whom he called “idiots.”

YouTuber Jake Paul defends being among crowd of looters as critics call him ‘epitome of white male privilege’

The video immediately sparked controversy, a constant companion of Paul’s, as social media users accused him of taking advantage of the protests to gain attention, with one user calling him the “EPITOME OF WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE” who is “CREATING CHAOS JUST FOR CONTENT.”

Paul sent out a statement the day after the videos surfaced in which he denied any charges of looting or vandalism and said, “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.”

On Wednesday, he posted a YouTube video titled “The looting situation explained. (deleting soon),” which has racked up more than 1 million views.

“People were mad at me because they assumed that me and my friends were looting, vandalizing and breaking down store fronts,” he said, denying it.

Throughout the video he decried the death of George Floyd and “police brutality” and claimed he was only in the mall to document the looting.

“I wanted to use my platform and film what was going on and what is going on in our country as we speak,” he said, adding, “I’ve always tried to use my platform to raise awareness for things that I believe in. It personally upsets me when people have the power to make a difference, and they don’t.”

“This situation, to me, felt no different than when I went down to help with the hurricanes in Houston to when I went to Parkland, Fla., to be ground floor with the students there after they had a horrific school shooting,” he said at one point.

These videos certainly have one thing in common: They all place Paul at the center of a controversy that serves to bolster his follower count.

As The Post recently reported, “When Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area in 2017, he and his crew drove to the city to ‘save thousands of lives.’ … The resulting trip was something of a disaster, as he invited his fans to gather in a Walmart parking lot to help him fill two U-Haul trucks — without consulting the store. More than a thousand fans showed up.

“A year later, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people, Paul visited the town and came up with a five-point plan to end school shootings.”

Wednesday’s video — in which he said “I’m an easy target. I know I am. It sucks.” — didn’t go over well on social media.

“I have never hated Jake Paul as much as I do today,” tweeted Daniel Keem, a fellow YouTuber who posts as Keemstar. “He owed everyone an apology for his actions & instead he make excuses & virtue signaling to cover up his bs. If he is innocent as he claims then release alll the raw footage to prove it. You can’t, you won’t, cus you lie!”