A known associate of Kanye West posted a video of a group apparently handing out the artist’s infamous “White Lives Matter” shirts to people living on Skid Row.
In the video someone could be heard shouting, “courtesy of Kanye West.”
“They dropped off a big box here and told everybody to come here to pick them up,” said resident Stephanie Arnold-Williams. “I was like this is not a good spot. I don’t think you should bring them here.”
West, now known as Ye, debuted the shirts at Paris Fashion Week earlier this month. The pieces of clothing feature Pope John Paul on the front and the controversial phrase on the back.
The Anti-Defamation League has called the phrase “White Lives Matter” hate speech. Many in Skid Row are confused about why anyone would do this.
“So far kind of puzzled,” said the Director of the Union Rescue Mission.
Even those who received the tees are bewildered by what this act meant to accomplish.
“It doesn’t mean anything, what does it mean,” said recipient Damon Willis.
Arnold-Willis was quite blunt about what she sees as a stunt pulled in a community predominately made up of Black and Brown people.
“I would say (expletive) Kanye West for doing this,” she said. “He should have never done this… The majority of people that have been getting killed are Black people. So, that’s what we’re talking about. So, don’t change the subject. It’s still Black Lives Matter here.”
Some residents said that the T-shirts are already causing trouble.
“Ever since my girl got the shirt she has been getting threats telling her not to wear the shirt or she’s gonna get beat up, stuff like that,” said Willis.
After Paris, Ye told Fox News he thought the shirt’s message was “funny” and “obvious.” Rev. Andy Bales said he wants to give West, who has worked with the Mission in the past, the benefit of the doubt. Bales added that he hoped Ye’s latest stunt is a veiled call for his support of Black Lives Matter.
“Black lives haven’t mattered enough to our world,” said Bales.
The reverend added that the confusion and controversy are the last thing Los Angeles’ most vulnerable need more of.
“We need peace brought to Skid Row more than we need controversy or tumult,” Bales said.
“Him having that shirt, coming out with that shirt could get people hurt and then he’s going to be pretty much to blame,” said Willis.
Some Skid Row residents have said that people have gone to the area to buy the T-shirts. Ye has not responded to requests for comment.