Riot Games is one of many game companies that have rallied in support Black Lives Matter over the last few weeks and vowed to create initiatives to support minorities in the tech industry, but the company is now looking into a social media post made by an executive that runs opposite of that public pledge.
Vice reports that the company has launched an investigation into a post made by Riot’s global head of consumer products Ron Johnson that pairs his own comment that the murder of George Floyd is "a learning opportunity for people" alongside an image describing Floyd’s criminal record.
George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police after being accused of paying with a counterfeit $20 bill, and his death is the spark that ignited weeks of (yet-ongoing) protests against police violence toward Black people, and larger conversations about systemic racism in society as whole. Vice has shared a copy of Johnson's Facebook post in the full story, along with a statement from Riot Games saying the company has “launched an investigation” into the social media post.
"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,” reads that statement. “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."
It's not the first time Riot Games has had to look into the actions of a high ranking executive following internal complaints. The company suspended COO Scott Gelb for two months back in 2018 over allegations of workplace misconduct as part of a larger (and still ongoing) reaction to accusations that the company fostered a sexist and toxic workplace.
Update (06/12/20): Ron Johnson has resigned from Riot following his comments about the murder of George Floyd. The studio confirmed the news to ESPN, which managed to obtain an internal memo sent to employees on June 11 announcing the resignation.
"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," reads the memo, written by Riot chief exec Nicolo Laurent.
"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."