Videos of people taking photos in front of looted and boarded up stores have emerged online amid the Black Lives Matter demonstrations
The US is currently facing its biggest uprising in over 50 years, as Black Lives Matter demonstrators take to the streets in protest against police brutality and systemic racism, sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer last week.
Activists are defying curfews all over the country as they continue to clash with police; fires blaze in Washington DC as protesters take Donald Trump to task; and looting has left a number of cities with empty stores. Now, for white Instagram influencers, it seems the latter has provided a new photo opportunity.
In one post, two white friends are seen deliberating about whether to join protests. “Let’s get drunk and go,” one writes, and the other replies, “I’m so down. Let me find a riot outfit”. The pair are then seen in a photo on Instagram posing at a demonstration, with the caption: “Plz do ur part but do it safely. #BLM go out there and do ur part we owe it.”
Videos shared on Twitter also show people posing in front of looted and boarded up stores as they have their photos taken. One girl, wearing a face mask, borrows a drill from a contractor to pose as if she’s rebuilding a shop, while another faces away from the camera and towards a smashed up T-Mobile store. A third girl poses on the edge of a march as her boyfriend takes a photo of her.
Writer and Women Who founder Otegha Uwagba tweeted about her experience confronting a white influencer who was virtue signalling on Instagram. She wrote: “This is why black people are looking sideways at all of this performative social media BS. Imagine a white influencer uploaded this to her Instagram, but is studiously ignoring my question about her own past behaviour, whilst responding to other, less uncomfortable comments.”
YouTuber Jake Paul has been called out by his followers for videos which appear to show the influencer looting during a protest in Arizona. The 23-year-old – whose estimated wealth is over $11 million – has since denied the accusation, insisting he was only at the demonstrations to film content for his YouTube channel.
Protests started in the US last week after 44-year-old Derek Chauvin murdered Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes. Demonstrations have since spread across the world, to London, Berlin, Toronto, and more, with activists campaigning for equality and an end to the unjust killing of black people at the hands of law enforcement.
Today (June 2), the music industry is leading a blackout in protest for Floyd, ceasing business activity for the day. Many people have posted a black square on Instagram in honour of the blackout, though the action is facing criticism, with people questioning the effectiveness of a blank post as opposed to an information aid. Others have pointed out how the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag is now dominated with black squares instead of fundraisers and posts highlighting black voices.
If you’re partaking in today’s Black Out Tuesday, here’s a list of anti-racism resources you can use to educate yourself and stay engaged.