Jeremy Meeks mugshot Jeremy Meeks mugshot

Opinion: What If Jeremy Meeks Is Innocent? Why Online Mug Shots Are A Dangerous Practice

Jeremy Meeks won the Internet this weekend—even though he’s in jail. The man whose model-like features inspired hashtags like #felonbae and #feloncrushfriday had his mug shot posted on the Stockton, California Police Department’s Facebook page on Thursday and it quickly went viral.

There was outrage that a criminal was being lauded for his looks. And of course there were endless memes and jokes. The media churned it all up, telling and re-telling the story of his arrest and his extensive criminal history.

Those complaining about the reaction to Jeremy Meeks’ mug shot focused on the insanity of lusting after someone with a rap sheet. TMZ screamed out, “Jeremy ‘Dreamy McMug’ Meeks—A REALLY bad dude.”

But there’s a bigger question lost in the debate on whether or not it’s okay to salivate over a felon’s mug shot.

Why is his mug shot online in the first place?

In the US, those arrested for a crime are innocent until proven guilty. But the fallout from Jeremy Meeks’ mug shot fame has meant that his past arrests and general status as a convicted felon have become an ingrained part of his narrative before he’s even had his day in court.

The Supreme Court has ruled several times that mug shots are a matter of public record. But should that include those not yet convicted of a crime? In today’s world, having your mug shot posted online is a punishment that can follow you forever (some companies charge as much as $900 to have mug shots removed from their sites even if you were found not guilty).

Several states in the country are in the process of passing bills that will allow only mug shots of those convicted of a crime to be posted online. Other states, including Utah, do not allow mug shots released to companies who charge to have them removed.

If you were wrongly accused of a crime and later found not guilty, how would you feel if the mug shot taken when you were arrested was online and remained there indefinitely? What if a potential employer did a search for you, (an exceedingly common practice), and saw a mug shot? Even if you were found not guilty, do you think your image would remain tainted? Now what if that mug shot went viral? Think you’ll ever be able to rehabilitate your image?

Just because Jeremy Meeks has a rap sheet doesn’t mean he’s guilty of the charges he’s facing right now. The fact that he served time in prison doesn’t mean he’s guilty either. His mug shot posted online and his arrest record reprinted in media outlets doesn’t change the fact that at this very moment, he’s considered an innocent man by the American legal system.

According to data gathered by the Center on Wrongful Convictions and The Innocence Project, it’s estimated that 1% of all prisoners—20,000 people—were wrongfully convicted.

Jeremy Meeks was driving a car that allegedly had marijuana and a cache of illegal weapons in the trunk. And yes, his previous criminal record doesn’t help his case. But neither does the fact that a photo taken while he’s still technically innocent has gone viral and helped to cement his guilt in the eyes of many who clicked that "Like" button.

If Jeremy Meeks ends up going to trial, it will be hard to find an impartial jury. All because his mug shot got enough press to make him an Internet celebrity before he could even get bailed out.—Aliya S. King

Aliya S. King's is the author of two novels and three non-fiction books, including the New York Times Bestseller, "Keep The Faith," with recording artist Faith Evans. She had written for VIBE since 1998. Find her at and @aliyasking.

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J. Prince Gets YBN Almighty Jay’s Stolen Rap-A-Lot-Records Chain Back

YBN Almighty Jay can thank J. Prince for stepping in to get his stolen chain back. The Rap-A-Lot Records boss secured the return of the jewelry days after his teenage protégé was beaten and robbed in New York City.

French Montana, and rapper Hocus 45th, met with Prince in Los Angeles on Monday (March 18) night to return the chain, and accompanying pendant. French played middleman to get J. Prince and Hocus 45th in the same room, TMZ reports.

J Prince shared a photo from the meeting on Instagram. “Real recognizes real in every hood and has a way of connecting in spite of clowns and squares,” he captioned the post. “The homies from the Bronx, KT, @hocus45th and @frenchmontana kept it real with me and my son @jprincejr.”

The Houston native added that French and Hocus are officially welcomed into his #MobTies movement, and that he looks forward to “doing business in the future together.”

Peep the full post below.


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Real recognizes real in every hood and has a way of connecting in spite of clowns and squares. - - The homies from the Bronx, KT, @hocus45th and @frenchmontana kept it real with me and my son @jprincejr - - Tho it was never about the chain, it was about the name that was built off of blood sweat and tears. - - I welcome these brothers to our #MobTies movement and look forward to us doing business in the future together. - - There’s power in numbers and when strong brothers from the streets align themselves with one another, suckas tremble. So I can only imagine how some of you are feeling right now! - - I’ve invited these homies to #htown for @jprincejr birthday celebration March 28-31, 2019 and I look forward to coming to the Bronx soon. - - The big picture here is the same as I stated in my first post, to not allow moment thinkers to muddy the waters over the movement. - - To @ybnalmightyjay I’ll be returning your jewelry soon Lil homie. - - To be continued... #TheArtAndScienceOfRespect

A post shared by J Prince (@jprincerespect) on Mar 19, 2019 at 10:16am PDT

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8-Year-Old Nigerian Chess Champion's Big Win Helps His Family Out Of Homelessness

An 8-year-old Nigerian chess prodigy is helping his family out of homelessness. Tanitoluwa “ Tani” Adewumi, won the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship last week, beating out more than 70 of the state’s top young chess players, all while living in a homeless shelter.

Tani, who was recently profiled in the New York Times, and his family fled Nigeria in 2017, reportedly out of fear of being targeted by Boko Haram. The family applied for asylum, and have since been living in a New York shelter.

The third grader learned to play chess a year ago at his elementary school, P.S. 116. Tani’s coach, Russell Makofsky marveled at his ability to learn chess so quickly. "His intellect, his aptitude, his capacity to learn chess is off the charts,” Makofsky said. “From not playing to beating the best of the best in one year is unheard of, all while living in a homeless shelter.”

Tani has been getting a lot of attention for his big win. A GoFundMe page launched on March 15 with a goal of raising $50,000 to help Tani’s family “secure a home where he can continue his journey,” has raised more than $182,000. An attorney has also agreed to work on the family’s asylum case for free, CBS News reports.

The family now plans to move into an apartment, and posted an update on the GoFundMe page Tuesday (March 19) sharing their gratitude for the donations, Tani’s chess coach, and the media for publicizing the story. “Our big shout out to the whole WORLD for all your support financially, morally, spiritually and many more can't [be] mentioned. You are all awesome. God bless you all.”

According to the post, proceeds from the crowdfunding effort will be donated to a new foundation that the family will be starting in Tani's name.

See more on his story below.

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Janelle Monae, Lil Wayne To Perform At Lollapalooza 2019

Janelle Monae, Lil Wayne, Team Imapala, Slash, and J. Balvin are among the artists who will be taking the stage for Lollapalooza 2019, festival organizers revealed Tuesday (March 19).

Lolla's partial performance list was unveiled in a nearly 14:00-minute interactive video featuring dogs up for adoption at PAWS Chicago. The pups move around in a makeshift playpen filled with plastic balls that reveal the images of the acts billed to perform at this year’s festival. The list also includes, Lil Baby and his “Close Friends” collaborator, Gunna, along with Lil Skies, French artist Madeon, Spanish singer ROSALÍA, electronic act Yaeji, and Australian dance group Rufus Du Sol.

Lollapalooza returns to Chicago’s Grant Park Aug. 1-4. It’s unclear when the full list of performers will be announced. As for tickets, 4-day general admission passes are on sale for $360 a pop, while VIP tickets will run music fans $2,200. One-day general admission passes haven't gone on sale yet but will cost $130 each, and a single-day VIP ticket comes with a $650 price tag.

Click here for ticketing info. Watch video of the lineup unveil below.

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