Riot began an investigation into Johnson after he shared an image critiquing George Floyd’s character and downplaying his murder. The image disparaged the “media and the left[‘s]” depiction of George Floyd as a martyr, and called his character into question, asking “who was he really?”
A screenshot of Johnson’s heavily criticised Facebook post. (Picture: Ron Johnson)
The offending image then goes on to list George Floyd’s criminal record. Johnson posted the photo with his own comments, calling Floyd’s death a “potential” crime, but also insinuating his criminal lifestyle was at the heart of his death, or in Johnson’s own words “[it] never results in good things happening to you.”
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The sentiment that Floyd’s criminal history leaves him partly of blame for his own death at the hands of police of officer Derek Chauvin (who has been charged with second-degree murder) is one that has become increasingly common in conservative circles. However, it stands in tone-deaf opposition to the public outrage and protests that have erupted globally in the wake of George Floyd’s death decrying police brutality and racism, and has already seen wide-spread support - including from Riot Games themselves.
(Picture: Riot Games)
In regards to Johnson’s social media post, Riot recently told Vice, "We’ll say firmly that the sentiment in that image is abhorrent, against our values, and directly counter to our belief that addressing systemic racism requires immediate societal change, which we detailed in the commitments we made Friday.”
Riot has declined to comment further, stating they don’t discuss ongoing investigations or their outcomes.
This comes on the back of a tumultuous few years for Riot Games ethical and moral image. Last May, Riot Games was witness to mass walk-outs protesting systematic discrimination within the company and its forced arbitration clause, itself instigated by lawsuits against the company and a damning investigative report by Kotaku.
While Riot have been vocal and up-front about plans to challenge and combat internal discrimination, however this latest scandal can only be seen as a setback that opens the door to all the old doubts and criticisms the company was attempting to leave behind.