Jack Gilinsky was arrested allegedly shoplifting at the Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, prompting the pop singer’s fans to lead an online campaign to #FreeGilinsky.
The campaign eventually met its goal, but the future for the singer and social media star remains unclear.
The incident took place at close to 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, when the social media star was picked up by police officers after he allegedly walked out of a shop wearing a sweater that he hadn’t paid for. His saga was shared to the internet by his Jack & Jack partner, Jack Johnson.
Johnson posted a series of Snapchat videos that showed Jack Gilinsky being questioned by police officers, and a later video showed Gilinsky standing in the airport as security and police officers decided whether he would be arrested.
Johnson later explained that Jack Gilinsky “accidentally stole the sweatshirt,” and the manager of the store refused his offer to pay for it.
Jack Gilinsky ended up being handcuffed and taken to a nearby police station with Johnson following along.
Johnson then posted a series of videos calling out the manager and staging a tongue-in-cheek protest outside the police station, all while pushing the hashtag #FreeGilinsky. The hashtag took off, eventually taking over as the top trend on Twitter, and even knocking off the news of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce.
For many outside the social media star demographic, the incident was their introduction to Jack Gilinsky. The singer first gained attention through the social media app Vine, then turned the fame into a career as a musician. The duo Jack & Jack released the single “Wild Life” in 2014, peaking at No. 87 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Gilinsky and Johnson have been friends since the first day of kindergarten. They remained friends through elementary and high school and launched a small YouTube channel in 2007 that included the two lip syncing music videos and posting parodies of popular songs.
They moved onto Vine in 2013 and then hit it big with their Nerd Vandals clip, which got praise from The Huffington Post.
“Here is, quite simply, a perfect Vine. Eric and Winston are hardcore nerd criminals out to teach their neighborhood a lesson… about multiplication tables. (Make sure to click the sound icon in the top-left corner to get the audio.)”
The two were later the subject of a full-length documentary and have since gone on tour alongside artists, including Nash Grier, Cameron Dallas, and Shawn Mendes.
Jack Gilinsky has gained more recent fame for his love life. He has been dating Madison Beer, the 17-year-old singer who has been taken under Justin Bieber’s wing. As IBT reported, the two have been spotted together a number of times.
“Gilinsky is dating Madison Beer, Justin Bieber’s 17-year-old protegee and the singer behind “Melodies”, “Unbreakable” and “Something Sweet”. The couple was recently spotted sitting together in the front row at the Erin Fetherston fashion show during New York Fashion Week. They have been dating since 2013 and went public with their relationship at the 2015 Radio Disney Awards.”
It’s not yet clear how the arrest could affect Gilinsky’s image or his standing with the largely young fan base they have amassed through their music and social media. Though Jack Johnson has painted the arrest as a misunderstanding, it could still hurt the pop star, who otherwise has a very clean image and has even become known for his philanthropic work and support of charitable causes.
The #FreeGilinsky hashtag eventually met its goal. While Los Angeles police have not yet announced the charges against Jack Gilinsky for his alleged shoplifting incident, he was released from jail within a few hours on Tuesday afternoon.
[Featured Image by Jack Gilinsky/Instagram]