If you saw the hashtag #FreeMeek while browsing Black Twitter and thought someone was giving away Meek Mill’s albums, you are incorrect. Residents of Philadelphia will take to the streets Monday afternoon to protest the imprisonment of the rapper and notorious collector of L’s after the hip-hop star was imprisoned on parole violations.
Born Robert Williams, the emcee was sentenced to two to four years for violating the conditions of his parole in a 2008 weapons case. Mill was arrested in March for an altercation at a St. Louis airport, but charges were later dropped. In August of this year, Meek was charged with reckless endangerment after a traffic violation on a motorcycle.
Supporters argue that Mill’s sentence is too harsh, while lawyers for the star say that the judge has an unusual “obsession” with the case. Attorney Joe Tacopina told Billboard magazine that Judge Genece Brinkley is “enamored” with Meek after he recorded a song that mentioned her by name. Tacopina also states that Brinkley has shown up at Mill’s court-ordered community service and even requested that Mill drop Roc Nation as his management and sign with a local manager with whom she has a relationship.
Celebrities and activists have spoken out against the unusually harsh sentence. Billboard reports that Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jennings, known for his social activism against injustice and mass incarceration, plans to attend the rally, as well as 76ers legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Philly native, and top five emcee of all time (fight me) and The Root 100 honoree who missed the party Black Thought also lent his support for the march.
Meek Mill is imprisoned at Camp Hill State Correctional Institution. The Color of Justice’s “Sentencing Project” reports that Pennsylvania imprisons black men at nearly nine times the rate of white men. One in 20 black men are incarcerated by the state—the eighth-highest rate in the country.
Meek Mill has released three studio albums, including his highly acclaimed 2012 debut, Dreams and Nightmares. He is signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music and released his latest album, Wins & Losses, in July 2017. None of these accomplishments matters in what may be the most important factor in Meek Mill’s incarceration:
Meek Mill is black.