A Riot Games executive has reportedly resigned, after an internal investigation due to a Facebook post he made highlighting George Floyd’s criminal history.
On June 10th Vice reported that Ron Johnson, Riot Games’ Global Head of Consumer Products (as of December 2019) made a Facebook post condemning George Floyd’s death along with his criminal history.
“This is no reason to condone his killing by the officer at all, which still needs to be investigated as a potential crime.
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.”
The post also contained an image, listing when Floyd was imprisoned for various drug and violent crimes. “When he was killed,” the text in the image claims, “he was high on meth getting ready to drive a car and possibly kill your kid. Too bad the pregnant woman didn’t have a gun.”
The latter refers to an incident in 2007, where Floyd was arrested for armed robbery after pressing his gun at an allegedly pregnant woman’s stomach. There have been conflicting reports and claims as to whether Floyd had drugs in his body when he died, along with claims of other health issues.
The post came amid the protests and subsequent riots across the US over the death of George Floyd. This has also resulted in delays and postponements by PlayStation, EA, EA Sports, IGN, Guerrilla Collective, along with Activision and Infinity Ward with the Call of Duty franchise [1, 2].
Take-Two Interactive, closed the servers for Red Dead Online, Grand Theft Auto Online, and NBA 2K20 for two hours to “honor the legacy of George Floyd.” NBA 2K20 also added free Black Lives Matter t-shirts to the game.
Other video game companies have also took part in Blackout Tuesday (changing their profile pictures to a solid black image, along with only posting a solid black image on social media that day), and have offered donations or organized fund-raisers.
Many other US companies and organizations have offered their support of Black Lives Matter at this time. As such, it is entirely possible the other presentations and showcases currently set for June could be cancelled.
Vice reported that after Johnson’s Facebook post, Riot Games launched an internal investigation. Speaking to Vice, a Riot Games representative condemned Johnson’s post as “abhorrent.”
“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.”
On June 12th, ESPN reported that in an internal note they obtained, Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent stated that Johnson had resigned.
“I won’t comment on Ron’s intentions in posting that particular message, or on any of his political opinions that have been shared in the media or otherwise. We must respect that everyone is entitled to their own political views.
However, I have to be honest with you. I believe Ron exercised really poor judgment here. It resulted in a post that was harmful to many of us and our broader community. It was insensitive and in this moment, it undermines the commitment we’ve made to stand against all acts of injustice, racism, prejudice, and hate. It also hinders our ability to create an inclusive environment for our entire community: Rioters, players, and partners alike.
Ron understands this and recognizes that he will be ineffective as a leader at Riot going forward. As a result, he has resigned, effective today.”
Laurent allegedly (in ESPN’s own words) “declined to inform employees of measures taken within the investigation, but said they would regroup in a regularly scheduled, all-hands meeting soon.”