On Saturday, Jessica Mann, the lawyer representing Dayjia Blackwell, also known as "Meatball," claimed that the media criticism of her client live-streaming herself and others looting in Philadelphia was racist.
In an open letter to the media posted on her Instagram account, Mann wrote, "I write this open letter with a profound sense of outrage and frustration over the unjust portrayal of my client, Dayjia Blackwell."
"It sickens me to witness the media's complicity in what can only be described as an all-out assault on black and brown people, as their character and actions are mercilessly vilified. We cannot afford to disregard this insidious injustice," she said.
Blackwell was arrested on charges for Disorderly Conduct, Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Conspiracy, Riot, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Use of Communication Facility, and Receipt of Stolen Property on Tuesday after she live-streamed footage of people ransacking retail stores to her 200 thousand Instagram followers. At one point in her viral video, she is heard saying, "Everybody must eat, everybody must eat, everybody must eat, everybody must eat, everybody must eat! Yes! Everybody must eat, everybody must eat, everybody must eat!"
Mann described her client as "a vibrant and charismatic 21-year-old African-American female, [who] was catapulted into the limelight through her incredible talent for creating hilarious and captivating content on social media." She added, "With her infectious energy and boundless creativity, Dayjia has captured the hearts of thousands, leaving a trail of laughter and joy in her wake."
"Still, this person described above does not garner clicks on your websites, so you post her mugshot with tears streaming down her face and her hair a mess to satisfy your need to get "clicks" and to sell a salacious story," the statement continued.
Mann went on to claim that Blackwell was only "capturing the raw reality of public outrage when she streamed the events that occurred on the night of September 26, 2023, in Philadelphia." She then attempted to justify the actions of the looters as a response to the city of Philidelphia dismissing charges against Police Officer Mark Dial.
"How can we stand idly by as they continue to paint Dayjia as the perpetrator when she was merely holding up a mirror to Philadelphia so that it could see its ugly reflection?" she concluded.
Former officer Mark Dial had charges over the death of Eddie Irizarry dismissed when bodycam footage showed Irizarry was wielding a knife when police approached his car, leading to Dial shooting him.
According to Interm Police Commissioner John Stanford, the looting began around 8 pm on Tuesday, but said the dismissal of charges had "nothing to do with the protests."
"What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists take advantage of a situation to make an attempt to destroy our city," he said.
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