James Charles and the D’Amelio sisters are facing backlash for their response on Twitter to Brandon Bernard’s death yesterday night.
The 40-year-old father was sentenced to death for a botched robbery plot resulting in the murder of two youth ministers back in 1999. Despite eleventh-hour appeals that delayed the execution, Bernard was killed by lethal injection at 9:27 pm ET at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was just 18-years-old at the time of the crime and acted as an accomplice, stirring intense debate about whether the death penalty should apply if the accused is barely a legal adult. Several of Bernard’s co-conspirators, aged 15 to 17, received prison sentences but were ineligible for the death penalty.
Bernard’s story swept social media in the hours leading up to his death largely due to Kim Kardashian West’s attempts to advocate for his commutation. Multiple attorneys, congressional representatives, and public figures followed suit, calling for his scheduled execution to be stopped.
Amongst the celebrities that spoke out about Bernard’s case were James Charles, Charli D’Amelio, and Dixie D’Amelio who tweeted their condolences just before his execution. The viral stars claimed they spent the day off social media while filming YouTube videos together and thus were unaware of the situation until the Supreme Court had already denied an application to halt his execution.
“I’ve been filming all day & just logged on and am now reading everything about Brandon Bernard – my heart hurts,” James tweeted. “Disappointed but not surprised by the SCOTUS petition rejection as well. We need a government that listens to our voices. This fucking sucks.”
Charli D’Amelio mimicked this sentiment, tweeting that after not being on her phone “all day” she was made aware of Bernard’s case via Twitter. “He does not deserve this and it breaks my heart that our outdated legal system is taking the life of an undeserving man,” the 16-year-old wrote.
Sister Dixie D’Amelio also tweeted that she “just opened Twitter to see all of this terrible/awful news.” The 19-year-old TikTok star proceeded to tweet out Black Lives Matter resources, information on how to contact the Department of Justice, and petition links in Bernard’s final hour.
Upon Bernard’s tragic killing, the influencers began receiving backlash for not addressing the case soon enough. Critics say James, Charli and Dixie were actively liking tweets and posting on Instagram throughout the day, despite claiming they stayed off social media.
A viral TikTok has also accused James of being “performative” and blocking Black people that called him out for lying.
“James Charles is currently on a blocking Black people spree because he just got caught, as well, liking tweets when he was allegedly off Twitter,” the video starts. “A Black woman caught him liking a tweet literally a few hours before the tweeting that he was filming all day and he just got on Twitter.”
User @thickblackthot then says James unliked the tweet after he “got caught” and began blocking “every single Black person” that’s criticised his behaviour.
Now, James has addressed the backlash in a series of tweets.
The 21-year-old beauty influencer started by quote tweeting a critic who tagged himself, Dixie, and Loren Gray saying it was “weird” that as TikTok stars, they wouldn’t be on their phones all day.
“I can’t speak for all influencers, but as for Charli, Dixie, Noah [Beck], Chase [Hudson], Larri [Larray] & I – We filmed 7 videos together over the past 2 days,” he starts. “None of us have been on social media accounts much because we were making content FOR our social media accounts. I liked 1 tweet this AM.”
He goes on to say that he didn’t hear about Bernard’s case until that night when “I checked Twitter during a few minute break in between videos, & after reading about his situation, I posted right away.”
“it’s also never wise to speak about a situation, especially to a large platform, before fully understanding it as well,” he continues. “You can’t win. Ignore something, people are upset. Speak about something, people are still upset.”
The YouTuber then asks fans to focus their anger on the country’s “fucked up legal system” instead of influencers.
When asked how he didn’t see awareness for Bernard’s case on his TikTok For You Page, James defended that his feed is “literally TikTok fuck boys, dancing, and memes about myself.”