In a twisted sense, the criminal justice reform movement needed a high-profile case like Meek Mill’s to occur just to further their point that the injustice should no longer occur. Though he’s facing an April appeal, the Philly rapper is still incarcerated on a 2-4 year probation violation that everyone from Jay-Z to the Philadelphia Sixers to journalist/activist Van Jones acknowledges is egregious.
Meek was violated by Judge Genece Brinkley for riding a dirtbike in Harlem and for a brief disagreement in a St. Louis Airport. Both cases were thrown out – but unfortunately, the probation that he’s been dealing with his entire adult life persisted. If that’s not bad enough, his probation nightmare has been sustained by people with their credibility in question, from Judge Brinkley to his onetime probation officer to his arresting officer.
Officer Reginald Graham was the lone witness in his 2009 gun and drug possession case and was found to be on a recently revealed list of corrupt officers who Philadelphia won’t even let testify anymore. It’s likely he stretched the truth to convict Meek. That fact is what his lawyers, activists, and family – including his mother – hammered home yesterday at a #FreeMeekMill panel in Philadelphia. His mother, Kathy Williams, put pressure on Philadelphia DA Krasner to “step in” on his case with a tearful, heartbreaking speech that exposed the despair that the loved ones of incarcerated individuals carry every day.
“I don’t even understand how he’s been on probation for that many years. It’s like he murdered somebody,” Williams said, before singling out Judge Brinkley. “He has to beg to see his son. What kind of woman does that? Is she a mother? Do she have a mother?”
For his part, Meek seems to be staying strong. He spoke via telephone at the conference, announcing gratitude for the people who’ve supported him and noting, “I think it’s about time Pennsylvania had some light shined on the system.” He spoke on being caught in the system and facing the treacherous circumstance of State Prison despite having a bustling rap career. Al Sharpton was there and told Meek over the phone that, “[your case] is about everybody. You’re not just talkin’ about freein’ Meek, you’re talking about changing the whole system.”