Jake Paul, 23, has been slapped with misdemeanor charges following a riot in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday, May 31. The YouTube star was present at the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall — which was closed at the time — where hundreds flooded in protest of George Floyd‘s death. Jake, who has specifically being charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly according to documents obtained by HollywoodLife, has since confirmed his presence but clarified he was not a participant in the looting and simply “filming” in an effort to “share our experience.”
“To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” Jake began his lengthy apology, written in Apple’s Notes, on May 31. The star went on to explain that he was present to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but experienced being tear-gassed as a result. “We spent the day doing our part to peacefully protest one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen, which led us being tear-gassed for filming the events and brutality that were unfolding in Arizona. We were gassed and forced to keep moving on foot,” Jake wrote.
The former Disney Channel star added that he was present to document the experience. “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; we were strictly documenting, not engaging,” he added, expressing that he doesn’t “condone” looting, however, empathized with what people were feeling. “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,” he poignantly added.
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) May 31, 2020
The Scottsdale Police Department has since issued an emailed statement to HollywoodLife regarding Jake’s charges. “He has not been arrested, only charged. He was issued a summons to appear in court in a month,” Sgt. Ben Hoster said. After news of the charges broke, Jake swiftly acknowledged them on his Twitter account, saying “gimme my charges and let’s put the focus back on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.”
gimme my charges and let’s put the focus back on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter https://t.co/nwBZmsxFFz
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) June 4, 2020
While Jake will likely have to pay fines in the thousands of dollars, Arizona Criminal Lawyer Robert Gruler says prison time is unlikely. “[Jake] probably just [faces] fines and some classes. If he has any prior criminal history, it may be that they ask for jail time,” who is the founding partner of Scottsdale’s RR Law, explains, adding that the charges could end up on his permanent record if he pleads guilty.
“[I] definitely never recommend pleading guilty!” Gruler adds. “Let’s take a look at the evidence, the probable cause statement, the cops involved…,” suggesting that Jake could use the fact he “didn’t know” it was unlawful to be in the mall against the trespassing charge.
Jake posted several videos to his Instagram story on May 31 from the protest, which took place outside of Scottsdale’s Fashion Square Mall. “America is in ruins,” he captioned one video, followed by a second after police tear gassed the crowd. “I’m tear gassed my eyes bleeding,” he wrote over another post.