We were sitting in the newsroom trolling the web for stories when we spotted an image that stopped us dead in our tracks. There, on the Miami Police Department's site, under a plea to "report gang activity," was an unmistakable face.
On the mural-esque banner depicting five tough-looking characters, including one holding a bat and one throwing up a gang sign, was Jay-Z. In fact, there were two Jay-Zs.
Riptide tracked down the Jay-Z photo used for the central figure in the banner and checked the details. Hat. Check. Watch. Check. Pinkie, arm band, folds of the football jersey. All check. The fellow on the left doing something gang-like with his fingers was also based on a Jay-Z pic.
Excited, we quickly dialed the police station and, predictably, got no response. But after our blog post was "forward[ed] to the IT commander," the offending art from the gang-unit banner was removed from the website.
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Riptide is still waiting for official comment from police as to why they think Jay-Z makes a good criminal prototype. Couldn't they have found a photo of a real gang member on which to base their art? After all, they are the police.
Though the MPD never gave us a reason for the bizarre celebrity cameo on its gang-unit page, it apparently told MSNBC the images were just a "place-keeper for artwork they were developing" that were "mistakenly" posted online. Oops!
We'll be keeping our eye on the website to see if the next gang-member caricatures resemble Nas. It would only be fair.