Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin speaks during a news conference on legislation aimed at reforming the Pennsylvania probation and parole system at Thomas Paine Plaza in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Wearing a Hawaiian shirt and walking out of Center City’s Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice to the “Rocky” theme song, Mill declared “Meek freed.” For the first time in 12 years, he does not have to return to court.
Rapper Meek Mill is helping students start the school year on a good foot. According to NewsOne , Mill, who was born as Robert Rihmeek Williams, teamed up with PUMA to donate more than 500 backpacks filled with school items to students at his old school, the James G. Blaine Elementary School. Meek attended the Philadelphia-based school as a young child. They also donated a year’s worth of supplies to more than 30 classrooms.
The criminal justice system is adamant that individuals work in order to be productive citizens, but at times made it difficult for Meek to be able to earn his livelihood. Every time Meek needed to travel, he was forced to seek permission, which was often denied unnecessarily. However, he still remained dedicated to making a difference not just in his city of Philadelphia, but worldwide.
The US rapper was granted a new trial in July because judges ruled that his original trial in 2008 had credibility issues with the arresting officer. He served another five months in jail before being released in April 2018 – and has since become a campaigner for criminal justice reform.
But now of course, Rubin — billionaire entrepreneur and minority owner of the New Jersey Devils and Crystal Palace FC , as well as the Sixers — has entered the pop cultural lexicon because of his close friendship with the Philadelphia MC born Robert Rimeek Williams. The two met while sitting courtside at the 2015 NBA All-Star Game in New York City.
The figure of the strong rehabilitative” judge has been touted since its inception as a progressive force, since a liberal-minded judge will purportedly abstain from vengeance and instead act in the best interest of the person on trial. As Judah Schept has written, some judges refuse to consider what they do punishment” at all, even when it involves incarceration. In Meek’s case, this arbitrary power appears in its most troubling forms, as Judge Brinkley’s bizarre and abusive relationship with Meek threatens his career, his family, and his freedom time and again. In a particularly surreal scene, Brinkley calls Meek and his then-partner, Nicki Minaj, into her chambers, for what the duo reported was a solicitation to record a cover of the Boyz II Men song On Bended Knee,” complete with a shout-out to Judge Brinkley.
Meek Mill usually performs with minimal accompaniment to highlight the power of his voice and lyrics. Since the Philadelphia star has an impressive catalog of hits to choose from, he always takes time to lay one song after the next, occasionally giving the crowd time to sing along.
The plea came after both sides questioned the credibility of the arresting officer. The defense also accused the trial judge of bias for sending the entertainer back to prison over minor probation violations.
By the time Dreams and Nightmares,” his seve-year-old introduction, closed out the show, it resembled a victory lap. That song still defines his career, an unimpeachable summation of the duality facing the Philadelphia rapper. A couple of minutes earlier, Mill tried to convince the crowd that they were millionaires in the making and all their dreams were moments from becoming a reality. It was a man groomed by unmatched self-belief preaching that same stubborn will to never give up to the masses. Life is rarely that easy, but for an hour enough people watched a Philadelphia-rapper-turned-American-symbol prove it’s still a possibility, as long as you have the audacity to dream.
Meek Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, said the whole case had been “mentally and emotionally challenging”, but that other people in the US also face similar ordeals.
MM: I always tell people — I used that picture right there for the CD of one of my albums. This a normal thing I would say in where I come from in the black community—getting arrested, nine times out of ten comes with an ass whooping. That’s always been a result of what I’ve seen growing up. I think it was two days ago, someone asked me how many times I was beat by police. I never talked about it. I talk about the one time on the case that I’m actually find it now, but probably four or five times—it basically was normal coming up.
As more people hear stories of lives broken by the probation system, there’s greater support for change, Rubin said. He cited a Philadelphia Inquirer story published last week which profiled a Delaware County man who was imprisoned for a probation violation; he couldn’t pay $1,900 in court fines.
A parole violation for suspected cannabis use resulted in a ban on touring, and then after failing to get his travel plans approved by the court he went to prison for five months in 2014.
For the next decade, Meek watched as his burgeoning rap career was sabotaged by the conditions of his constantly ballooning parole, which frequently kept him from touring and promoting his music and often saw him back in trouble for minor infractions. This culminated in 2017, when Meek was given a two-to four-year prison sentence for parole violations after being caught in an Instagram video popping a wheelie on a dirt bike.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court removed Brinkley from the case as it granted Mill a new trial. Krasner’s office then had to decide whether to retry him or try to negotiate a plea, perhaps to misdemeanor charges. In his testimony at trial, Williams admitted having a gun but denied that he pointed it at police or was selling drugs at the time.
Now that Mill’s case has ended, now that his legal travails have made him more of a star than his rhymes ever had, now that he and Rubin have created a $50 million nonprofit to greatly reduce those caught up in the parole and probation system, now is when the Meek Mill story really gets interesting. Because you never know just who, owing to a mix of circumstances and internal fortitude, is going to step up.
Unlike Meek Mill, most Americans don’t have a network of supportive celebrities and substantial funds to take on a legal fight against our unnecessarily burdensome system of probation. That’s why it is critical that advocates unite to push for reforms in states across the country. It is time we stop laying traps and start providing the support people need to succeed and thrive.
The group’s “mission” is to “dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system, starting with probation and parole”.
He thought he caught a lucky break when a judge offered him a plea deal (a year in prison, followed by five years of probation), but he quickly found that even out of prison, the system could be just as stifling.
Meek Mill, who spent time in prison and on probation after he was convicted on drug and gun charges in 2008, will face no other penalties as part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, citing a court hearing.
He is now free of the close scrutiny of Judge Genece Brinkley, who convicted him after a short nonjury trial in 2008 and called him back to court repeatedly during a decade of court supervision. Brinkley frequently complained that Williams was “thumbing his nose” at her, and once visited a homeless shelter to check up on his community service efforts. She later reprimanded him for sorting clothes rather than serving meals as she had ordered. He said he was directed to the job.
If Free Meek leaves viewers with fairly obvious questions regarding the fairness of the American justice system, one thing is clear: Meek’s family love him, and he is equally fond of them. From his drug-dealing cousins who kept Meek on the straight and narrow and in the studio (even paying the electricity bills so he could record) to his mum, who made food to sell to the community in order to raise enough cash to meet Meek’s initial bail when he was first incarcerated, the mutual support is obvious.
Following the release of the lead single for Dreams & Nightmares, entitled ” Amen “, Philadelphia area pastor Rev. Jomo K. Johnson called for a boycott of Mill due to the song’s lyrical content. “As a hip-hop fan, I want to encourage every rap fan in Philadelphia who is a believer in Jesus Christ, to boycott Meek Mill until he acknowledges this blatant disrespect. And being resident of North Philadelphia and pastor, I revoke Meek’s ‘hood pass’ until this happens,” Johnson said in a statement.
Meek has adhered to several rules and regulations as a part of his parole such as: reporting to and passing mandatory drug tests, community service, meeting with his parole officer, and reporting his whereabouts and obtaining permission prior to leaving the city.
His conviction was overturned last month after an appeals court found that new evidence undermined the credibility of the officer who testified against the rapper at his trial, making it likely he would be acquitted if the case were retried.
One of Amazon’s successes in choosing to produce a docuseries on Meek’s decade-long schlep through the courts is in highlighting the flaws in the US probation system. With over four million Americans on parole or probation, the perceived injustices incumbent in these arrangements have even lead to a pressure group being set up to advocate for change. It is one backed by the likes of Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, Jay-Z and Meek himself.
In November 2017, Rubin accompanied Mill when the rapper was summoned to a Philadelphia courtroom for a probation violation for a gun and drug possession case from a decade ago. The probation officer and the prosecutor both agreed Mill shouldn’t go to jail.
Ignoring the obvious irregularities, Judge Brinkley slaps the young Meek with a long-tail” probation sentence, allowing her almost unlimited access to his life. Even when Meek proves to be a model probationer, Judge Brinkley remains unsatisfied. She makes it her personal mission to mold him according to her wishes. She tells him how he should deal with his management, and shows up personally to oversee his community service.
Moreover, the charges that led to his current violation, were subsequently dropped and the stiff sentence was handed down despite the recommendations of both his probation officer and the District Attorney. Meek’s efforts to change his image while still remaining true to his artistry and who he is as a man went unnoticed as well.
On a balmy Chicago night, standing over a crowd of suburbanites buzzed off too much Bon & Viv spiked seltzer and cheap weed, Meek Mill was buoyantly free from the systemic strictures that have plagued the bulk of his adult life. In late July, the Pennsylvania Superior Court threw out a 2008 drug and gun conviction that has reared its head again and again, granting him a new trial and judge It’s a complicated situation, but lately there have only been positive steps as of late.