On Friday, supporters of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard clashed outside the courthouse as the closing arguments began.
The $50 million libel lawsuit between Depp and Heard has polarized fans and pitted them against each other. Depp and Heard fans camped outside the courthouse in Fairfax, Va., for several weeks.
Videos shared by Instagram user @houseinhibited, also known as Jessica Reed Kraus, on their Stories showed crowds of fans surrounded by law enforcement.
The actors’ arrival in the courtroom has become a daily sight as fans line the streets waiting for Depp and Heard to arrive. Videos shared by Victoria Bekiempis on Twitter show fans cheering Depp and booing Heard.
Reuters editor Corinne Perkins tweeted a photo of Dan Kim, 26, holding a sign outside the courthouse that read, “I support Amber.” In the photo, a stranger makes an obscene gesture towards the sign.
The trial became what some described as a “media spectacle”. Eva Wallace, reputation and privacy lawyer at Vardags, said Newsweek in a previous report, that the trial is “a pop culture boxing ring that invited the court of public opinion to decide, unhindered by burden of proof or careful analysis of the evidence. We have already seen after Heard’s mention of Kate Moss during her testimony.”
“Notably, however,” Wallace continued, “despite the live broadcast of the trial, many will derive their opinion from short isolated snippets of social media information, which may well be strategically presented in a format for persuade the viewer/reader to believe in a certain point of view.”
People on social media were torn over the trial, with many fans split between the actors and their cases. Depp and Heard also took note, as Heard took the witness stand on Thursday and wept, saying she felt harassed and humiliated by the public.
“Even walking into this courtroom, sitting here in front of the world,” Heard said, “Having the worst times of my life, the things that I went through, humiliated me. People want to kill me. people want to put my baby in the microwave, and they tell me.”
Depp sued Heard for $50 million for defamation over an article she wrote with The Washington Post claiming to have been the victim of domestic and sexual abuse. Heard sued for $100 million for nuisance, and both accused the other of domestic violence during their short-lived marriage, which ended in 2016.
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Updated 5/27/2022 2:18 p.m.: This story has been updated to include more background information about reactions to the lawsuit.