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#Freemeek

Carly Daley, Special to the Quad

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In 2005, you could find Robert Rihmeek Williams sporting nappy braids and sweatpants as he rap battled his way through the streets of North Philly. In 2011, Williams signed with Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group (MMG). In 2017, now referred to as Meek Mill, Williams is one of the most successful rappers in the industry and in late July released his third studio album titled “Wins & Losses” which stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks. Today, Meek resides on SCI Chester’s Honors block in Chester County, Pa.

If you haven’t already heard about Meek Mill’s most recent incarceration then you probably live under a rock. How could you have missed the gigantic billboards that littered the Philadelphia highways with #JUSTICE4MEEK plastered on them, the rallies that had the streets of Philadelphia shouting “FREE MEEK” or the handful of Instagram posts from famous celebrities in support of their friend saying #ISTANDWITHMEEKMILL. What about the No. 1 song from Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Future where Jay and Bey both rap, “I’m riding through the hood shouting, FREE MEEK.” Haven’t heard or seen any of that? Well then it’s time to get informed because everyone is talking about it.

Unjust and mass incarceration are such important matters that were brought to light this past November when Meek was first sentenced to two to four  years in prison by Judge Genece E. Brinkley. Meek was around 19 years old when he first was convicted on charges relating to drug and gun possession, and he served an eight-month sentence. Now he’s 30 years old and he has been on probation for most of  his adult life. For about a decade, he’s been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside. This is the harsh reality many men and women in this country face. They get lost in the system and soon realize our justice system is not made to help them. Instead it hurts them because it’s easier and cheaper to put them  in prison, and that will always be the judge or parole board’s first option.

But yes, Meek first stood before Judge Brinkley about a decade ago, and he was given five years’ probation due to drug and gun-related charges. In the following years, Brinkley adjudicated more cases involving the rapper. In 2012, one of her rulings revoked the rapper’s travel permit. She ordered him to take etiquette classes in May 2013, among other rulings. In August 2017, she charged Meek with a felony count of reckless endangerment—which was later dropped to a misdemeanor and dismissed—after he rode with a group of kids on dirt bikes in New York.

In late March 2018, the rapper’s lawyer Joe Tacopina requested Brinkley’s removal from the case due to “unusual personal interest.” He alleged that the judge crossed numerous professional boundaries, including requesting Meek re-record the Boyz II Men song “On Bended Knee” as a “tribute to her” and asking the rapper to switch management companies.

“When she requests he leaves his current management Roc Nation—which is one of the most important management companies in the world—and goes back to a local Philadelphia guy who has a spotted past because she had a personal relationship with him as manager, again, she’s doing something that a judge would never be doing, having a personal interest,” Tacopina told Billboard in November of 2017.

Responding to the song request claims in her ruling, Brinkley wrote, “This bald allegation has no basis in reality. There is zero evidence to support this claim. The court has repeatedly told defendant that he cannot demand special treatment just because he has chosen to be an entertainer.” She also accused Meek and his lawyers of “fabricating” claims that the FBI was investigating his case.

Tacopina criticized Brinkley’s ruling on Monday, April 2, continuing to accuse the judge of harboring a “personal vendetta” against his client. “In spite of the recommendations from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, which was supported by Governor Tom Wolf, the judge continues to stand alone in supporting Officer Reginald Graham’s perjured testimony as well as his criminal behavior that has been documented,” the attorney said in statement to the New York Daily News. “Fortunately, we have already filed petitions with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to secure his release, and we remain hopeful that the Court will right this injustice very soon.”

The rapper spoke against Judge Brinkley in a Rolling Stone profile last month. “There’s brothers locked down that did nothing to be here but piss off people like Brinkley,” the rapper said.

This injustice happens way too often, and for far too long the justice system has been ruining people’s lives without any repercussions. The fact that a man of Meek Mill’s influence and means whom could help  and completely change our city of Philadelphia is wasting away the next two to four years of his life in a state penitentiary is sickening.

A two to four year sentence is not light, so change it to 500 hours of community service spent at Kensington Urban Education Academy School or Bartman John Main School which are listed at No. 4 and 5 of the Top 100 Worst Performing Schools in America from neighborhoodscout.com.

Philadelphia and surrounding areas like Chester County hold seven different spots in the first 65 schools listed. Along with the community service, Meek was ordered to donate a portion of the money he makes or all of it from his next tour to help those seven schools and their surrounding communities. Wouldn’t you think Judge Brinkley would look at the struggling city she resides in and use her position to actually make a difference in the world? No, instead she ruins a man’s life.

Carly Daley is a student at West Chester University. ✉ [email protected].

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The Student News Service of West Chester University
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