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Saturday, September 3, 2022

Jeremy Meeks: The Mugshot Model

     In our celebrity driven culture that puts a high premium on good looks, it's not surprising that a young, good-looking convicted felon with street gang credentials, attracted thousands of adoring fans. Beauty, as they say, is only skin deep. Nevertheless, a lot of beautiful, narcissistic celebrities end up on the pages of People Magazine, one of America's most popular and puerile publications. The overnight fame of a young criminal named Jeremy Ray Meeks is testimony to the power of good looks, the influence of social media and the shallowness of American popular culture.

     Jeremy Meeks could thank police officers in Stockton, California for his sudden fame. On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, pursuant to a joint law enforcement crackdown on street gang activity, officers pulled over Meek's car. A search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of 9 mm ammunition, an unregistered .45-caliber pistol, a small quantity of marijuana and two handgun magazines. When taken into custody, Meeks was accompanied by a 23-year-old man who, like himself, was on probation.

     A San Joaquin County prosecutor charged Jeremy Meeks with eleven felony counts related to firearms possession, gang membership and probation violations. When someone in the Stockton Police Department posted Meeks' mugshot, the accused gang member with the high cheek bones, chiseled face and striking blue eyes, became an instant media sensation. 

     At his arraignment, the judge posted Meeks' bail at $1 million. While the suspected street gangster cooled his heels in the San Joaquin slammer, someone on Facebook posted his mugshot and created a fan page in his honor. In a matter of days, the Facebook page attracted 80,000 "likes," 21,000 comments and 9,500 "shares." Not only that, news outlets like USA Today, TMZ, "Inside Edition," and New York Magazine published his mugshot and featured his story. 

     Jeremy Meeks mother, Katherine Angier, taking advantage of the media frenzy surrounding her outlaw son, set up a fundraising website that featured photographs of him with his 3-year-old son. On the GoFundMe site, she addressed the issue of his gang-related tattoos that included an inked teardrop beneath his left eye (a mark that honors a gang killing), the word "Crip" (Crips gang) on his arm, and other prominent tattoos on his neck: "He has old tattoos which causes him to be stereotyped. He's my son and he is so sweet. Please help him get a fair trial or else he'll be railroaded."

     By June 21, 2014, Angier had raised $2,000 for Jeremy Meeks' defense.

     So, who was this sweet boy with the gang tattoos and fashion model's face? In 2004, Meeks left prison after serving two years for grand theft. A year later, in Spokane County, Washington, a prosecutor charged him with identify theft in the second-degree for impersonating his brother, Emery Meeks. That prosecutor also charged him with resisting arrest, a count that was later dismissed. When the dust settled in the Washington case, Meeks ended up on probation.

     Stockton police and the prosecutor in San Joaquin County, California expressed puzzlement over the Meeks media sensation. I guess these law enforcement practitioners didn't realize that a segment of the American public has always considered the good looking outlaw a romantic figure. 
     In February 2015, after San Joaquin County turned the Meeks case over to the federal authorities, Meeks pleaded guilty to several weapons charges. The federal judge sentenced him to 27 months in prison.
     In March 2016, Meeks was released from Mendota (California) Federal Prison after serving 13 months of his sentence. Over the next few years he became a successful model, working for several large fashion houses. In 2017, Meeks began dating Topshop heiress Chloe Green. The couple had a child in May 2018 then separated in August 2019. 

3 comments:

  1. Well I guess this guy is out of jail and officially a model now. I wonder if they cover his gang tats on the runway, especially that awful-looking teardrop on his face, or if that is seen as some sort of radical chic. Dang, I'm getting old.

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  2. Thornton Knowles will be rolling in his grave.

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