Influencer Jake Paul faces charges after Arizona mall riot
Social media influencer Jake Paul faces misdemeanor charges following a riot at a mall outside Phoenix, police say.
Paul, who has 20 million YouTube followers, says he was merely trying to find people protesting against the death of George Floyd.
Paul, 23, was identified as a participant in a riot last Saturday night at Scottsdale Fashion Square and has been charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly, the Scottsdale Police Department said in a statement Thursday.
Police determined that “Paul was present after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and the rioters were urged to leave the area by police.” He entered and remained inside the mall when it was closed, police said.
Sgt. Benjamin Hoster said he didn’t know whether Paul has an attorney and that he was issued a summons to appear in court “in a month.”
Paul said in video posted Wednesday that he and friends went to the mall to attend a protest against the death of Floyd, who died last week in Minneapolis at the hands of police.
Perhaps one too many neighbors complained, or perhaps the social media star just needed a bit more room to let loose.
Paul and his friends instead found people engaged in looting and property damage that included shattered windows of offices and stores, Paul said, adding that he didn’t participate in that activity.
“That’s the way it looked on camera. However, that isn’t the case,” he said.
Paul said he kept walking in the mall area despite encountering the criminal activity because he still wanted to find the protest.
He said it was upsetting that social media posts accused him of vandalism. “I’m above that. I don’t need to vandalize. I don’t need to loot, and I know it’s not the way forward.”
Paul said that he was an “easy target” and that he has learned a lesson about entering situations that could pose problems. “But it’s not going to stop me from doing what I need to do.”
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