Family and friends of 30-year-old Jeremy Meeks did not anticipate all the attention the convicted felon would receive when a mugshot of him was posted last week. But the image of Meeks’ and his striking features has attracted thousands of admirers and has since gone viral.
Now, Meeks’ mother, Katherine Angier, has decided to capitalize on his popularity by launching an online campaign through GoFundMe to raise money for her son’s legal defense.
So far, donations total more than $4,000 — while his bail has been raised to $1 million.
“He has old tattoos … which causes him to be stereotyped,” she wrote on the site. “He’s my son and I’m just trying to raise funds to help him in any way. Please help him to get a fair trial or else he’ll be railroaded.”
His family has also launched a Facebook page on Saturday, which has amassed more than 1,200 likes. The page includes photos of Meeks with his family, on vacation and participating in a series of activities. However, a separate and more popular Facebook fan page was also created around the same time, which has reached more than 187,000 likes.
Meeks — who is married and has two young sons — was arraigned Friday on 11 felony counts that allegedly include firearm possession, gang membership and parole violations. He previously served two years in prison for a 2002 grand theft conviction.
Meanwhile, all of the social media attention and admirers Meeks’ mugshot has attracted has not flattered family or friends.
“It’s ridiculous,” his friend Rajanique Davis told CBS Sacremento. “People are making jokes when this is not funny at all.”
Meeks’ wife is also not amused. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see her at all in the cameras, because she’s upset,” said friend Simone Johnson. “She’s furious. Her man is in there and people are taking it as a joke, thinking it’s funny talking about his looks, saying all kinds of crazy things.”
Despite the attention, Meeks’ younger brother came to his defense and argued that he is a man who has learned from his mistakes.
“With his past history, he got out of being incarcerated and put his mind on focus to his family and started doing what he had to do,” he said. “Living the dream that he always wanted.”
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @LillyWorks