Riot Games has come under intense pressure after one of its executives made a Facebook post insulting the memory of George Floyd, a black man killed by police in the US. This was the catalyst for the current wave of both peaceful and militant protests across the globe, and has lead to a lot of necessary conversations about racism. Riot launched an internal investigation, and almost immediately placed Ron Johnson on leave for his comments.
As first reported by Vice Johnson is said to have shared the post on his personal Facebook that laid the blame for Floyd’s death on his lifestyle choices through a picture overlaid with the man’s alleged criminal convictions and called his death
the post contained an overlay of Floyd’s image combined with a series of alleged criminal convictions. The intent was to undermine claims of police brutality by asserting that Floyd somehow deserved it. Johnson referred to his death as “a learning opportunity for people (and your kids) to teach that this type of criminal lifestyle never results in good things happening to you or those around you.”
This kind of racism is a common rhetorical trick used by racists to attack communities of color, trying to tie these groups to the idea that they are to blame for the actions of police and racists.
In a statement to Vice, Riot Games said “We’ve been made aware of the social media post and have launched an investigation. 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. While we don’t discuss the details of our investigations or their outcomes, we’re following our disciplinary process closely and have placed him on leave pending its conclusion.”
The death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, including one who knelt on his neck for nine minutes, kicked off a wave of protests worldwide. People all over the globe are confronting the realities of systemic racism, including many companies in the gaming industry. Many gaming icons have put out statements in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, pledging to create a more hospitable environment in their games. Riot Games put out a statement from company president Dylan Jadeja. Many companies have also made commitments to support charity and organizing to help fight racism and police brutality.