Riot Games has launched an investigation into one of its executives after he shared a post on social media that downplayed the murder of George Floyd by a police officer.
Ron Johnson, Global Head of Consumer Products at Riot Games, shared the post on Facebook. It includes an image of Floyd, and impact font on top of the image which says: "The media and the left have made George Floyd into a martyr, but who was he really?"
The text then goes on to list Floyd's criminal record.
"This is no reason to condone his killing by the officer at all, which still needs to be investigated as a potential crime," Johnson wrote in the post attached to the image. "It is 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."
Johnson's post reveals a sentiment that is common among conservatives and those who excuse blatant instances of police brutality and racism, specifically against Black people: It suggests that the public and tortuous killing of Floyd may be an excessive use of force, but that it is at least partly Floyd's fault because he was previously involved in criminal activity.
This point of view, of course, ignores the fact that police use force against Black people at a rate that is much higher than they use force against people of other races. For example, in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, police use force against Black people seven times more often than they do against white people. It also ignores the fact that Black communities are subject to higher rates of policing, and that police have wide latitude to make arrests; Black people are arrested and prosecuted at disproportionate rates to white people across every type of crime.
"We’ve been made aware of the social media post and have launched an investigation," Riot Games 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. 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."
Johnson's post comes after a tumultuous year for Riot Games, during which employees accused management of gender discrimination and a culture of sexism. In May 2019, over 100 Riot Games employees staged a walkout to protest the company's forced arbitration policy. In December 2019, Riot Games agreed to pay $10 million in gender discrimination settlement.
Since then, Riot Games has touted its focus on "diversity, inclusion, & culture," saying it's "setting a high bar for diversity and inclusion (D&I), and fostering a fair, collaborative, high-performing culture." It also said the company "must call out sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, religious discrimination, and bigotry of all kinds."
Johnson, who previously executive vice president of Nickelodeon and Viacom consumer products at Viacom International Media Network and an executive with Disney Consumer Products, has a Facebook page that anyone with conservative relatives will recognize immediately.
On June 7, he posted an image of Saints quarterback Drew Brees who recently said kneeling during the anthem disrespected the flag, saying he's "an awesome american and a great person." He also shared an anti-abortion rights meme, a Rand Paul quote about limiting government power that was created by right wing "university" PragerU, and a meme claiming Donald Trump is doing a great job in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.