Kanye marched for George Floyd and paid daughter’s tuition – now he’s being sued by his family. What changed?
A lot has changed since 2020.
Back then, the rapper and fashion designer known as Kanye West marched for George Floyd and donated thousands of dollars to support his family.
Two years later, the artist, now known as Ye, is subject of a $250m lawsuit from the mother of George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, accusing Mr West of “creating an unsafe and unhealthy environment” for the child with his recent comments.
Roxie Washington, Gianna’s mother, said in news release on Tuesday she’d sent Ye a cease-and-desist letter for making “false statements about George Floyd’s death to promote his brands, and increase marketing value and revenue for himself, his business partners, and associates.”
The Independent has contacted Ye for comment.
Last week, the rapper and fashion designerappeared on the Drink Champs podcast, where he made numerous antisemitic remarks and cited a documentary from right-wing figure Candace Owens as proof that the police hadn’t actually killed George Floyd.
“The guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that,” West said, even though both video evidence plainly shows, and medical officials and courts later confirmed, that police were the ones who killed Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.
The Floyd family said they felt “absolutely betrayed” by the artist’s comments.
“Claiming Floyd died from fentanyl not the brutality established criminally and civilly undermines & diminishes the Floyd family’s fight,” their attorney Lee Merritt wrote on social media on Sunday.
Kanye West is spreading reprehensible lies about George Floyd's death. Kanye West is disgraceful.
"When you look, the guy's knee wasn't even on his neck like that." pic.twitter.com/QhD0KTF8V4
— Christopher Bouzy (@cbouzy) October 16, 2022
By turning to media like Owens’s The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM, the family said West is now in league with the “far right” and “conspiracists.”
“For someone who has held himself out as an ally and supporter for the family, to now see him reversing course and ratifying [Owens’] comments and her extreme views is really disappointing,” Mr Merritt told Rolling Stone.
On Monday, N.O.R.E., one of the hosts of Drink Champs, apologised to the Floyd family for airing the episode, and said he didn’t agree with West’s anti-Semitic remarks or attacks on the official narrative of what killed Floyd.
“I made a mistake doing the Kanye interview,” he said, calling into the Breakfast Club radio show. “I could come out here and say this was Kanye’s thing and that’s it. And guess what? People will forgive me and I could get away with that. But that’s not what I’m doing. I feel like I failed my people.”
The acrimony between West and the Floyd family is all the more shocking, considering just two years ago the rapper was a major public ally.
He was one of many public figures who joined in the 2020 racial justice protests that followed Floyd’s killing.
Kanye West joins protest in Chicago @nbcchicago pic.twitter.com/xO3MvBw1Kc
— Trina Orlando (@TrinaOrlando) June 5, 2020
That same year, West also donated $2m to the families of victims of racial violence including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the Floyds. The rapper set aside an undisclosed amount of money to be put towards college tuition for Gianna Floyd, George’s daughter.
“Thank You Kanye, Because of You I Will have a college Education... Mommy and I are so thankful for you and your family,” Gianna wrote on Instagram at the time.
The Independent has contacted members of the Floyd family and their attorney for comment.
West, once known for making songs about US racism, and famously criticising George Bush’s woeful response to Hurricane Katrina as being racist, has been flirting with right-wing politics for years.
He visited the Trump White House, has worn a MAGA hat on numerous occasions, and recently sat with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson for an interview, where he allegedly made anti-Semitic comments that were cut from the final broadcast.