Riot Games, esports giant behind League of Legends and Valorant, has announced the resignation of one of its top executives. Placed on leave and under internal investigation earlier this week, Global Head of Consumer Products Ron Johnson is exiting Riot after it came to light that he posted a Facebook meme downplaying George Floyd's death in police custody.
"Ron Johnson is no longer employed at Riot Games," says spokesperson for Riot Joe Hixson in a statement sent to USG. Hixson goes on to reiterate that Riot's stance on the post in question reported on by Vice—a meme that listed Floyd's record, implying he was at fault because of past activity—is that it "is abhorrent and runs directly counter to [the company's] values" as outlined in a post from Riot President Dylan Jadeja last Friday.
ESPN reports that Riot's CEO Nicolo Laurent announced Johnson's resignation to the rest of the company last night. After saying that Riot "must respect that everyone is entitled to their own political views," Laurent weighs in on the particular nature of Johnson's post:
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.
The investigation into Johnson and his subsequent resignation comes mere days after Jadeja announced Riot will donate $1 million to The Innocence Project and the ACLU. This also follows Riot's recent public reckoning with an internal culture steeped in sexism and discrimination, which resulted in promises for company reforms and a $10 million settlement for affected employees.
Protests against police brutality and system racism continue across the U.S. and around the world in the wake of Floyd's death. Derek Chauvin, the Minnesota officer who knelt on Floyd's neck for close to nine minutes, has been charged with second degree murder and his fellow officers on the scene face aiding and abetting charges. All four have been fired. In addition to Floyd, the protests call for justice for other black individuals, including Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in her own home in Louisville, KY earlier this year.