On the morning of Wednesday, June 10, Riot Games’ Global Head of Consumer Product Ron Johnson posted a status via his Facebook page containing language that held George Floyd, a man recently murdered by the Minneapolis Police Department that has since garnered global attention, responsible for his death due to a history of crimes.
Johnson, an executive at Riot, has been placed on leave by the company after his post circulated throughout the League of Legends community on various social platforms, according to a statement by the company to gamesindustry.biz.
UPDATE 6/11: Riot Games has fired Ron Johnson and provided the following statement to Inven Global:
“Ron Johnson is no longer employed at Riot Games.
“The sentiment expressed in the image in question is abhorrent and runs directly counter to our values and our belief that addressing systemic racism requires immediate societal change, something that we’re committed to working toward.
“As we shared last week, Riot is taking thoughtful and deliberate action to help combat racism and injustice in the communities where we work and live. To start, we’re committing $1 million to areas where we know we can make an impact, including justice reform, long-term solutions to address racial bias, and support for local Black-owned businesses. We’re also striving to change the face of our industry and create opportunities, including by investing $10 million in founders underrepresented in the games industry and helping create a future pipeline of underrepresented talent for the gaming and tech world.
“We know there is much work to be done, and we vow to do our part.”
Riot Games’ statement regarding Johnson’s leave is as follows: “The sentiment in that image is directly counter to our belief that addressing systemic racism requires immediate societal change.” The company announced it will be launching an investigation on Johnson and the surrounding situation. No other updates have been provided to the public at this time.
Johnson’s status that accompanied the image with text posted was: "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."
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was arrested for what was thought to be a counterfeit $20 bill. Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis PD knelt on Floyd’s neck during the arrest, and Floyd died shortly after. The event and its surrounding discourse has resulted in twelve straight days of global protests calling for an end to police brutality in the United States.
Community backlash centered around not only Johnson’s words on the situation, but also the contradictory nature of the status only five days after a statement by President of Riot Games Dylan Jadeja in support of victims of police brutality and racial injustice. The developer has contributed $1 million to the cause and has announced initiatives with the intention to raise at least $10 million more in the future.
We will provide more information pertaining to this story as it becomes available.