Defund Jake Paul—YouTuber and Public Menace
Paul turned his L.A. neighborhood into a “war zone.” He allegedly looted during Black Lives Matter protests. He threw a COVID-19 party. Can the FBI raid on his home be his finale?
It’s been three years, almost to the day, since I had to ask my teenage cousin who the hell Jake Paul was—and ever since, I have wished to return to a time when I did not know.
The year was 2017, and the Disney sitcom Bizaardvark had just severed ties with Paul—a separation both parties framed as a mutual decision that was rumored to have resulted from Paul turning his Los Angeles neighborhood into a “living hell” for neighbors.
Even back then, my Gen-Z source noted that Paul was known to many as a “trash person”—and in the years since his reputation has only gotten worse.
Paul and his vlogging buddies, including brother Logan Paul—perhaps best known for mining Japan’s “suicide forest” for content and cracking jokes about a corpse he encountered while wearing a fuzzy green hat—have become poster children for white privilege. His continued fame is perhaps our best proof that “cancel culture” is a figment of the public imagination. Jake’s most recent offenses have included some seriously unhinged suggestions for preventing school shootings; making light of COVID-19 and even throwing a pandemic party; and allegedly looting during Black Lives Matter protests. As the FBI raids his home this week, I am once again asking: Can this please, for the love of God, finally be the moment when Jake Paul just goes away?
In 2017, Paul’s neighbors in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood called the YouTuber and his crew out for turning the neighborhood into a “war zone” with their frequent parties and stunts—which included setting furniture ablaze in the home’s swimming pool, with flames allegedly reaching the top of the house.
A neighbor told a local news outlet, “It used to be a really nice, quiet street and now [it’s] just this, like, war zone...We’re families here and we’re more than happy to have them live here if they’re respectful of their neighbors, but they’re not.”
Cobra Acquisitions, LLC, which owned the home, sued Paul in 2018 for $2.5 million after the YouTuber allegedly wrecked the place.
“Defendants performed a number of dangerous and damaging stunts” at the property, the complaint obtained by The Daily Beast reads, “including lighting fires in the backyard, filling the pool with cereal, draining the pool and lighting a fire in the pool, hosting parties at the roof, installing a trampoline on the roof, and making holes in the interior walls of the Subject Property.”
The complaint lists damages to the property “including but not limited to burn marks in the pool, dead landscaping, extensive damage to kitchen cabinets, removal of electronic equipment throughout the house, the addition of electrical equipment to the exterior, damage to the roof...and damage to the concrete on the exterior of Subject Property.”
Cobra ultimately filed to dismiss with prejudice.
That same year, Paul caught flack for using the N-word multiple times in a freestyle rap over over Rae Sremmurd's “Throw Some Mo.”
Paul’s rep told TMZ at the time, “There’s no allegation regarding the actual amount of damages other than the request for punitive damages. That’s because the damages were minimal compared to the amount they’re asking. They say they want punitive damages because they say they didn’t know Jake would use the house for his pranks, but the original lease states it’s for Jake’s personal use...After more than a year, when they presumably would have known all about the pranks, instead of asking him to leave they raised the rent and increased the security deposit. Something doesn’t add up.”
Then, in the wake of the devastating shooting at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Paul also came out with an appalling documentary-style video that purported to solve the nation’s school-shooting epidemic with an absurd five-point strategy.
In a 2017 video, Paul, who also moonlights as an amateur boxer, and his crew had posed with automatic weapons before shooting up a friend’s car and showing off their gun tattoos. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that rather than encourage gun control in his video, Paul’s solution, as described by former Daily Beast writer Taylor Lorenz at the time, was as follows:
1. Install bulletproof windows, particularly inside classroom doors.
2. Put more law enforcement officers in schools.
3. Have social media and tech giants somehow identify potential shooters based on their Instagram posts, and alert authorities. “I know on Instagram if a girl posts a picture with her nipples out it gets flagged and reported on Instagram. So why can’t we have the same technology for a kid posting a selfie with a handgun?” Paul says.
4. Have kids carry bulletproof shields inside their backpacks.
5. Lock down high-school campuses with TSA-style checkpoints where kids are searched and forced to provide ID to enter campus.”
After backlash spread on social media, Paul listed a few gun control measures he purportedly supports—but somehow none of those ideas had made it into his video.
This July, as COVID-19 ran rampant in California, Paul threw a massive party—flouting guidelines that urge against mass gatherings.
“No one has answers, our leadership is failing us, and everyone kind of just doesn’t know what to do,” Paul told Insider days later, after Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub called him out. “But I personally am not the type of person who’s gonna sit around and not live my life.”
“I was very upset that somebody would hold such an outrageous gathering in our community,” Weintraub told ABC News. “We’re trying to do everything we can to get our numbers down and keep our community safe, and something like this just does the opposite.”
And on Wednesday the FBI raided Paul’s home in Calabasas, seizing multiple firearms allegedly in connection with Paul’s misdemeanor charges following looting in a Scottsdale, Arizona, mall in June. (As TMZ notes, at least one of Paul’s recent videos has included visible guns in the background.)
Paul was charged with misdemeanors criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly after allegedly looting during Black Lives Matter protests after several tips and videos surfaced of Paul and his crew wandering the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall.
Paul denied participating in looting and vandalism, and claimed he and his crew had been tear gassed after peacefully protesting and later documenting their surroundings on foot in the closed mall. The charges have been dismissed in light of the federal investigation, local authorities confirmed Wednesday.
In a statement Wednesday the Bureau said, “The FBI is investigating allegations of criminal acts surrounding the incident at Scottsdale Fashion Square in May 2020.” No arrests are immediately planned.
And bringing things full circle, one of Paul’s neighbors told CBSLA Wednesday that ahead of the raid he heard frequent explosions coming from Paul’s home: “Big loud explosions at night,” he said. “These are just mysterious things in the night.”
Maybe now, after years of conspicuous twerpdom, Paul’s endless fireworks show will finally come to a close. Maybe? Please?