Jeremy Meeks, 30, was one of four men arrested in a string of raids in Stockton, California following a series of shootings and robberies this week. The Northern California city's police squad posted mugshots of Meeks and four others, who were hauled into custody after a gang-related bust on Wednesday.
Meeks' photo has since gone viral, racking up nearly 100,000 Facebook likes, 5,500 shares, and 20,000 comments (the majority of which are devoted to praising Meeks' appearance; think: "I can see why he's in jail. Being this hot should be illegal." Others are not: "His second chance came when he was released from prison after doing 9 years. No excuse for a convicted felon to carry a weapon"). Meeks, who was arrested on felony weapons and street terrorism charges, among others, is being described by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office as "one of the most violent criminals in the Stockton area." Meeks denies reports, which portray him a gang-related "kingpin."
The five men were arrested in connection with a mission dubbed Operation Ceasefire, an alliance between the Stockton police gang unit, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Task Force, and other agencies. The partnership between the agencies was formed after a recent surge in robberies and shootings in the Weston Ranch area of Stockton. While the DA has not released any further information about Meeks' specific crimes, they do note that Meeks had a two-year stay in state prison for a 2002 conviction of grand theft, and that he is also said to be a documented gang member from the Northside Gangster Crips.
Further investigation of ours reveals that Meeks has been arrested in connection with seven felonies, including counts of (1) street terrorism (two counts); (2) carrying a loaded firearm when the person carries a loaded firearm on the person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street; (3) possession of a handgun for which the person is not the registered owner of the handgun (which is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year); (4) possession of a firearm by a convinced felon; (5) possession of any ammunition or reloaded ammunition by a person prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm; (6) buying or receiving any large-capacity magazine [an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm] (which is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year). He is also being charged with one misdemeanor for willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing a public officer.
With the increasing talk of Meeks' model potential (yes, he's 6'1" and has a notably strong facial structure) and an influx of photoshopped images of the ex-con in fashion campaigns, I got to thinking. Our sources in the industry tell us that they would be surprised if agencies were not trying to get in touch with Meeks as we speak in hopes of signing him. One problem is that it may not be awhile before he is able to work. I am not sure how much time he will serve. However, according to reports, the District Attorney will file a charge of a probation violation due to a recent arrest and conviction that said Meeks resisted arrest, and because he has prior convictions, it may be a considerable amount of time before Meeks, who is currently being held on $900,000 bail, hits a catwalk.
More interesting, though, is not what today's viral mugshot says about Meeks and his potential to be a model. Instead, it is what it says about us - the ones who have contributed to making it viral in the first place. (Full disclosure: I am guilty, as I have had a conversation or two today about where Meeks would potentially fit within the industry). The situation seems to quite clearly shed light on our skewed perception and preoccupation with beauty.
This is indicated by the sympathy with which Meeks, a convict and alleged gang member, is receiving, as distinct from the other four men who were arrested with him and also facing felony charges. Moreover, it is hardly a stretch to say that the majority of the population has relatively little interest in the many, many felons that are sent away for five to ten years on a regular basis (many of which come from unfortunate circumstances and rely on drugs and crime as mechanisms to cope and support themselves and their families).
So, why do we care now? Well, it seems obvious that any rallying that is currently occurring around Meeks, outside of the support of his family and friends, stems almost entirely from his appearance. This should come as little shock, as people are motivated by appearances (as indicated by the enormous number of compliments Meeks is receiving on his mugshot via FB comments). While the over-use of photoshop and the employment of scary-skinny, underaged models puts our obsession with appearance into perspective, this does, as well.