Fulltone founder Michael Fuller faces backlash over criticism of looting during George Floyd protests

UPDATE (12/6): We have changed the headline of this article to better reflect the nature of Fuller’s controversial statements.

UPDATE (7/6): Fuller’s apology has been taken down from the Fulltone Facebook page.

UPDATE (3/6): Michael Fuller has since given a statement in response to the backlash, clarifying his position and apologising for offence caused. See below.

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Boutique effects pedal pioneer and Fulltone founder Michael Fuller has been widely criticised for comments allegedly made on social media in the wake of ongoing demonstrations across the US protesting police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

A post on Fulltone’s official Facebook page, which uses Fuller’s picture as its profile image and regularly features the pedal builder posting in the first person on it, criticised the local response to the demonstrations, stating: “What is this like night 4 of looting with 100% impunity. The pussy Mayor and Governor don’t give a shit about small businesses, and it’s never been more clear.”

The original post was followed half an hour later with a comment on the original post stating, “Ahh I feel better, and flushed out some prissy boys who were raised to pee sitting down. Now I’ll delete.”

The post was deleted soon afterwards, but not before the original was screengrabbed and widely shared, prompting one Fulltone user to send a forthright email to Fulltone’s sales email address, accusing the designer of valuing “storefronts over police brutality”, and threatening to throw out his Fulltone pedals and leave a negative review in response to Fuller’s alleged comments.

The user then received a defiant response from the account, purportedly from Fuller himself, stating: “I am begging you to sell your pedals because you actually don’t deserve them. You are actually so racist that you believe the Good people who are protesting are the same as the Organized gang banger criminals who are looting ‘storefronts’.

“Those ‘storefronts’ are good hardworking people’s lives and livelihoods. I’m [sic] fact if I see you with a Fulltone pedal I will tag it and break into your house and loot it from you, because it’s my free expression to do so… right?”

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A screengrab of this email (see below) was widely circulated, including on the Fulltone Pedals Facebook group, prompting significant criticism. Perhaps most notably, strong condemnation of Fuller’s alleged comments came from the administrator of one of the largest Fulltone fan pages on Facebook, which has over 14,000 followers – nearly double Fulltone’s official page.

🤦🏼‍♂️🤷🏼‍♂️

Posted by Fulltone Pedals on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The page’s administrator, identified only as ‘Bryant’, made a series of posts, including a screengrab of the email, and a post that stated, “This is not a #riot this is #rebellion! #justiceforgeorgefloyd I don’t care what Mike says on his own page, I run this page and will promote the movement.”

The posts provoked widespread condemnation of Fuller’s alleged remarks in the comments underneath, and the criticism was not reserved for the Fulltone fan community.

“I’ll never buy another Fulltone guitar pedal again,” wrote Ryan Walsh, frontman of Boston indie-rock veterans Hallelujah The Hills. “I’d rather go acoustic, frankly, though the very notion makes me sick. Acoustic. My god.”

Brooklyn pop-rock duo Savoir Adore called for a boycott of Fulltone, posting an image of the initial post captioned: “For all you guitar players out there… This is what the owner has to say about the protests… #boycottfulltone”.

Jupiter Winter guitarist and solo artist Lelia Broussard was also forthright in her criticism, posting the screencap and stating: “Hey musicians: Fulltone Pedals isn’t on twitter but here’s what they have to say about the protests. FUCK this brand. Boycott.

“Any visual artists out there want to help us repaint these pedals with Black Lives Matter so that we can donate the pedals somewhere without doing anything to promote this trash brand?”

 

Following the online criticism to his posts, Fuller shared an update on Fulltone’s Facebook page to clarify his position. The statement, however, as of 7 June, appears to have been removed from the Facebook page. Guitar.com managed to save the text, which you can read here:

“I want to address a couple of things I posted recently that have rightfully pissed off a bunch of people. A couple of days ago I made a comment about the mayor and Governor being pussies for allowing looting.

“The rest of that sentiment that did not get shared is ‘…they were arresting the good people protesting and allowing professional crews to loot with impunity.’ Adding that doesn’t make it better, but I do believe that no one should destroy another person’s property…I can’t wrap my head around that one.

“But the real question should be: what is privileged white guy doing opening his mouth about this, let alone throwing gas on a sensitive subject? I’ve been thinking a lot about his, and I believe the answer is insensitivity, anger, and most importantly Fear.

“Fear from just coming out of this COVID quarantine and it’s affects on business, and, fear or many things, including fears of lack of relevancy, aging, and fear of losing what you think is yours. Which is a phallacy in itself, because I, not owed anything. Fear of being looted and harmed. In my case, I think I’ve been in fear for a very long time, and fear can makes people say stupid things.

“I’ll end now by saying I apologize to anybody I’ve offended, and believe that anyone who abuses or harms another person should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, that includes cops, and I shouldn’t speak to this subject any more unless I’m out there doing something positive, which is not the case right now.”

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