YouTube star Jake Paul criminally charged despite vehement denials of looting Arizona mall

YouTuber Jake Paul, a social media influencer and documentarian with 20 million followers on the platform, is denying he and his team were taking part in looting an Arizona mall after being arrested by Scottsdale police during a George Floyd demonstration.

Police said Thursday that Jake Joseph Paul, 23, was identified as being present while scores of people broke into the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall over the weekend, looting stores and destroying property.

Officials with the Scottsdale Police Department said they received hundreds of tips and video of the incident, and that Paul was identified in at least some of those clips. Police say Paul and others illegally entered and then remained inside the mall after it had closed.

The department said that Paul “was present after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and the rioters were ordered to leave the area by police,” as reported by ABC15.

The popular YouTuber has been charged with criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly, both of which are misdemeanors.

In a tweeted statement, Paul said neither he nor anyone in his “group was engaged in any looting or vandalism.”

“For context, we spend the day doing our part to peacefully protest one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen, which led to us being tear-gassed for filming the events and brutality that were unfolding in Arizona,” he continued.

“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,” Paul said. “We were strictly documenting, not engaging. 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.”

A report by Inside Edition features video of the melee, in which Paul is seen among the rioters.

“The video shows people smashing the windows of a display car and entering a Sephora through a broken glass door. Paul said he was there to document the protests,” Inside Editionsays in its report.

In a separate video posted to Twitter, Paul went continued his denial.

While it’s unclear whether Paul or anyone in his group took part in any violence inside the mall, if the Inside Edition video is accurate, then it’s obvious that Paul was certain inside the structure. And in fact, he admits as much by noting in his statement that he was on the scene to ‘document’ what was taking place.

Scottsdale police have not accused Paul of partaking in the rioting, only of being somewhere he was not legally permitted to be, regardless of his reason.

As for the looting, reports noted Wednesday that police had recovered at least $46,000 in stolen merchandise and that a number of suspects had been arrested on various charges including trespassing, burglary, and trafficking in stolen goods.

Police said the investigation is continuing and that more arrests are likely.

Around the country, rioting and looting have continued days after the Floyd incident, suggesting to some are using his death as an excuse to destroy property and steal.

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Jon Dougherty

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