George Floyd’s family is seeking legal action against Kanye West over comments he made about the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death.
West, who now goes by the name Ye, falsely claimed that Floyd died from fentanyl use on the podcast Drink Champs, despite the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office ruling Floyd’s death a homicide after former police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
“Kanye’s comments are a repugnant attempt to discount George Floyd’s life and to profit from his inhumane death,” said Attorney Pat D. Dixon III, who is taking on the case for Floyd’s family. “We will hold Mr. West accountable for his flagrant remarks against Mr. Floyd’s legacy.”
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The suit is being filed by Floyd’s mother Roxie Washington on behalf of Floyd’s only daughter, who is a minor. A statement from Dixon said the lawsuit against Ye is over “harassment, misappropriation, defamation and infliction of emotional distress seeking $250 million dollars in damages.”
The statement also says the family has issued a cease-and-desist letter to Ye for his comments. Representatives for Ye did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on this story.
Roy S. Gutterman, the director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University, told NPR on Wednesday that it’s unlikely the defamation claims will be won by the family as there is no living plaintiff with a damaged reputation. Gutter did, however, say that the family may attempt to prove Ye’s comments were intentional or reckless — a similar legal claim was recently levied against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was ordered to pay $965 million to people who suffered from his false claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.
“Unfortunately, the recent interview with Kanye West contained false and hurtful information regarding the circumstances surrounding the murder of George Floyd,” a spokesperson for Drink Champs told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. The episode has since been removed from podcast distribution platforms.
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The lawsuit against Ye comes shortly after the musical artist signed a deal to acquire the social-media platform Parler. Parler is an alternative social-media company popular among conservatives, and is marketed as “the premier global free speech platform.”