In the wake of the death of George Floyd, mass protests have erupted in many American cities. Some of these have turned to violence, vandalism, and looting, prompting the likes of Killer Mike to plead for safety. Scottsdale, Arizona is one of those cities. On Saturday night, a number of protesters there broke into a mall and started taking things. Video soon surfaced that showed among those there to be controversial YouTube star Jake Paul, prompting many to assume he was one of the looters. On Sunday Paul released a statement emphatically saying he was not.
As caught by Deadline, Paul posted a lengthy statement on Twitter to set things straight. “To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” Paul wrote. “For context, we spent 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.”
Paul also claimed he and his team were “strictly documenting” the melee, and that he does “not condone violence, looting, or breaking the law.”
The footage was actually taken and posted by Andrew Blue, Paul’s videographer and photographer, and it shows the destruction of a car and the looting of a Sephora. Neither Paul nor Blue are shown participating, and Paul claims they were not associated with people doing the looting.
Paul has repeatedly come under fire for videos he’s made that have been accused of crossing ethical lines. In 2018 he was widely condemned for posting a video of a suicide victim at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan.
The death of George Floyd has captivated the country in all areas. While protesters take to the streets, celebrities have been lending their voice to the cause. Killer Mike pleaded with fellow citizens of Atlanta to not “burn your own house down” while Cardi B sided with protestors, saying, “Finally, yes. Motherf*ckers are gonna hear us now.” Now a man who’s typically quiet has made his voice heard: Dr. Dre went on Lil Wayne’s Young Money Radio show to give his thoughts on the death of George Floyd.
It’s like, man, that situation, it hurt my heart. My heart is still aching. And it felt like that cop had his knee on all of our necks, meaning black men. And yeah, it’s extremely painful. It’s extremely painful because it keeps going on. It continues to go on and it’s like, ‘What can we do? Or what do we need to do to make this thing stop? What is supposed to happen to make this thing stop? It has to stop. What the… is supposed to happen?’
While voicing disagreement with the third-degree charge given to Officer Derek Chauvin, Dr. Dre said, “Point blank, period. They’re supposed to be convicted of first-degree murder. And the f*cked up part is they’re so brazen with it, broad daylight, with cameras on. And he’s got his knee on this guy’s neck for that amount of time and he doesn’t give a f*ck. His hand is in his pocket. He may as well have been whistling.”
The nearly 20-minute convo, which touches on a number of subjects surrounding the protests, can be found above.
As nationwide protests continue for a fifth straight day over the killing of George Floyd by a police officer who had a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, many luminaries in the sports world are speaking out.
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson was a longtime friend of Floyd’s, having grown up together in Texas, and was among the first to speak out, traveling to Minneapolis as part of protests that have now popped up in just about every major city in the United States. He was joined by Karl-Anthony Towns and other members of the Timberwolves, and others have stepped up in recent days. Jaylen Brown led a protest in Atlanta that was also attended by Malcolm Brogdon, while LeBron James and other prominent NBA players have spoken out on their various social media platforms.
On Sunday, Charlotte Hornets owner and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan issued a statement through the team indicating his sadness, pain, and anger at yet another example of police brutality towards black people in America, resulting in another tragic and unnecessary loss of life.
Jordan joins the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as legendary sports figures to speak out on the issue, but given Jordan’s relative quietness on political and social issues in the past (something addressed recently in The Last Dance), it’s meaningful and noteworthy that he is speaking out strongly on this issue.
As coverage shifted in recent days from the horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic to the horrors of police violence against people of color, so has shifted the reaction of those watching and experiencing the outpouring of grief and protest at the death of George Floyd in Minnesota while in police custody.
Protests and conflicts with police have spread across the country, as citizens of all walks of life have publicly protested or expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the advocation of police reform. NBA players like Malcolm Brogdon and Jaylen Brown even held a peaceful protest in Atlanta on Saturday, the latter of which drove 15 hours from Boston to hold the event.
But in light of the actions of some, others have noticed the inaction or relative silence of others. CNN anchor Don Lemon, for example, took airtime on Saturday to criticize those in Hollywood and the entertainment industry for their relative silence on the protests and a lack of calls for reform while some portions of America burn.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the CNN anchor called Hollywood “strangely quiet” and advocated that they take more meaningful action in showing support for a troubled community.
“What about Hollywood? Strangely quiet,” the CNN Tonight host said during a conversation with Rev. William Barber as the fifth night of protests over the death of George Floyd unfolded in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York and other cities nationwide. As he screened footage of fires and looting in cities nationwide, Lemon continued, “I’ve seen them on Twitter, I see them, ‘Oh, I’m loving what Don Lemon’s doing’ … But they gotta do more than that.”
As for both black and white celebrities, he continued, “Why aren’t they helping these young people? These young people are out there standing on a platform at the edge of an abyss by themselves.”
Lemon said he hopes people, stop “sitting in your mansions and doing nothing” in the wake of protests and calls for change in a troubled nation.
“Yes, I’m calling you out, and you can be mad at me all you want. And what they’re doing, you’re sitting there and watching TV and you’re b***tching abut it… Get on television or do something and help these young people instead of sitting in your mansions and doing nothing. And have some moral courage and stop worrying about your reputation and your brand. “
The segment came on a day where some notable celebrities detailed police actions against them, including John Cusack in Chicago. Others in the music industry have stepped forward to criticize police violence and have shared images of their various forms of protest, and other actions are expected later this week as the nation continues to grapple with violence, poverty and systemic oppression in various forms.
While we’ve heard statements from the likes of Beyonce, Cardi B, Rihanna, and more, other celebrities have stepped out into protests in cities all across the country to fight for social justice following the death of George Floyd. J. Cole took to his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina to walk alongside protestors.
Chika did the same in Los Angeles but was later arrested for “failure to disperse” despite sharing a video that showed her attempt to help others do just that. Another artist who also had their peaceful protest disturbed was Halsey as she detailed her experiences following her protest in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Posting a series of pictures to her Instagram story the caption throughout the pictures read:
We were peaceful, hands up, not moving, not breaching the line. They opened fire of rubber bullets and tear gas multiple times on us. Citizens who were not provoking them. Most of us were simply begging to have empathy. To reconsider. To consider humanity and our nation’s history and future. They opened fire multiple times. I was hit twice. Once by pellets and once by shrapnel. We were gassed repeatedly for hours. The frontline did not relent. I will be returning. Have courage.
I WAS NOT ARRESTED.
Im safe. There were ppl I had to get to safety as many of them have VISAs. Myself + many of my peers were shot, gassed + antagonized. The frontline was calm + did not provoke
BUT MANY ARE NOT SAFE + MANY ARE IN CUSTODY
DONATE TO BAIL ORGS!!!
I AM CURRENTLY
— h (@halsey) May 31, 2020
I wanted you to know I was SAFE because information was out of control. But I will NOT be updating any more personal information!!!
I WILL ONLY BE DOCUMENTING AND POSTING MY RECORD OF THE STATUS OF THE ASSEMBLY.
Thousands of you witnessed them fire on us unprovoked.
Be safe. https://t.co/G2o5DIV4pb
— h (@halsey) May 31, 2020
Halsey would later send out a pair of tweets confirming that she was not arrested during the protest while reminding her followers that “MANY ARE NOT SAFE + MANY ARE IN CUSTODY. DONATE TO BAIL ORGS!!! I AM CURRENTLY.”
Screenshots from Halsey’s Instagram story that detail her experiences while protesting can be found below.
The murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota, who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed, has sparked nationwide protests of the continuing police brutality toward the black community.
Many prominent athletes have spoken up about the issue, as they have in the past, from Stephen Jackson, a childhood friend of Floyd’s, to Jaylen Brown, LeBron James, and others. Some in the Bundesliga in Germany made sure to make statements on the pitch during games over the weekend, and even Trevor Lawrence, Clemson’s star quarterback and the presumptive top quarterback taken in next year’s NFL Draft, issued tweets calling out racial injustice and supporting his teammates, the majority of whom are black.
It is that latter point, the high percentage of high-level college athletes who are black, that makes some like North Carolina Central head basketball coach LeVelle Moton upset at the silence of so many high profile head coaches in college athletics — most of whom are white — in a situation such as this. Moton spoke to the issue on ESPN radio, highlighting how coaches seem to fall silent on issues that affect their athletes but don’t directly impact them.
As #GeorgeFloydProtests take place around the country,
he calls for Power 5 coaches to stand up for their players.
— ESPN Radio (@ESPNRadio) May 31, 2020
“I come across the timeline of coaches, and everyone is silent. And I have a major issue with that. For years I’ve never really said anything, but now I think enough is enough. Here’s the harsh reality, we have coaches in Power 5 football and basketball coaches, the reality is a lot of these coaches have been able to create generational wealth. I mean, their grandkids kids are going to be able to live a prosperous life because athletes who were the complexion of George Floyd was able to run a football, throw a football, shoot a basketball, or whatever have you. So they have benefited greatly from athletes who look like George Floyd, and many more.
“But whenever people the complexion of George Floyd is killed, assassinated, murdered in the street, in broad daylight, they’re silent, and I have a problem with that because it seems like black lives matter to them whenever they can benefit from it, whenever they’re getting them a first down or catching an alley-oop or shooting a three or whatever. But when it’s time for the humanity to speak up on behalf of those student-athletes, it’s silence. It’s crickets. So my problem is, if the murder of black Americans is too risky of an issue for you to stand up as a leader, then who are they really playing for.”
It’s a strong statement from Moton and one that should be addressed. That it is in some way a controversial stance to admit racism exists and that black people shouldn’t be killed or brutalized by police when unarmed, one that coaches are afraid to take that stance out of fear that they may lose boosters or fans, is a significant issue, particularly given the benefit they receive from players who play (without pay, I should add) for them and face these issues in real life.