Posted: April 24, 2018
By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered the immediate release of rapper Meek Mill.
TMZ reported that the 30-year-old, whose birth name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was denied bail last week by Judge Genece Brinkley. Brinkley had been criticized for having what some considered a bias against Meek.
In November, Meek was sentenced to two to four years in prison after violating probation for a drug and weapons case when he was 21.
The Associated Press reported that Meek will be on bail while he appeals the gun and drug convictions.
Activists and celebrities, including JAY-Z, T.I. and Kevin Hart, have shown support for Meek. At the time of the sentencing, JAY-Z said Brinkley’s sentence was “unjust and heavy handed.” Hart visited Meek in prison earlier Tuesday with 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin.
“We are thrilled that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has directed Judge Brinkley to immediately issue an order releasing Meek on bail,” Meek’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said in a statement. “As we have said all along, Meek was unjustly convicted and should not have spent a single day in jail. We are also pleased that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has noted that Judge Brinkley may opt to remove herself from presiding over any further proceedings in Meek’s case in the interests of justice. Meek is excited to be reunited with his family, and we, along with Meek, intend to continue to shine the light on a justice system in need of reform to prevent any other citizen from being put through what Meek has endured.”
Meek himself issued a statement that was posted on his Twitter page. He thanked his supporters and advocates while voicing plans to bring attention to people of color in prison and move on with his career.
“I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time,” the statement said. “While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive.
“To the Philly District Attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice. I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues. In the meantime, I plan to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career.”
I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time. While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive.— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) April 24, 2018
To the Philly District Attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice. I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues.— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) April 24, 2018
In the meantime, I plan to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career.— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) April 24, 2018
Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Fanatics
Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Fanatics
“Welcome home Meek Mill,” the public announcer said at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, The Associated Press reported. Cheers erupted from the crowd and Meek walked out onto the court to ring a Liberty bell Replica with fellow Philadelphian Kevin Hart. The comedian and 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin had visited Meek in prison earlier Tuesday, hours before his release.
“Mill being here tonight was amazing, but him being here tonight was bigger than the Sixers,” Hart told WPVI after the game. “It was more about getting out, beating something that was incorrect and now having the opportunity to stand in front of that incorrection and correct it. It's about saying, OK guys, look, in the system that we have today in Philadelphia and everywhere else there’s a lot of injustice, and now we have the opportunity to poke holes in that injustice and shine a light on it and hopefully correct it. I think he’s going to take full advantage of his opportunity, his platform, the pedestal that he stands on, and really draw more attention to it and hopefully make other people look at it in a way that we can start to change it.”
Hart added that Meek, whose birth name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was at the game with his son, 7-year-old Papi.
“I’m glad that my friend, my brother got out tonight. More importantly, he got to be with his family -- his son,” Hart said. “His son was there on the sideline with him. So the Sixers winning is a great moment, it's a highlight. For him, his son, that's the best thing about today. As soon as he got out, the first thing he did was call his son. ‘Get him here. Get him down here.’ They flew him straight to the game. He got his son there. His family, his mother. That’s ultimately what it’s about.”
In a statement issued after his release was announced, Meek said that he would use his platform to bring attention to people of color in the justice system. The 30-year-old rapper served five months in prison for violating probation on a drug and weapons conviction when he was 21. His release was celebrated by not only Hart and many in Philadelphia, but celebrities like JAY-Z -- who initially criticized Meek’s sentencing -- Rihanna, T.I., Rick Ross and QuestLove.
“Today, Meek Mill, a son of Philadelphia, is a free man,” JAY-Z said in a statement Tuesday. “He was incarcerated unjustly and caught in a probation trap for years by a broken system. Now we can celebrate his release. We thank every individual that has supported and fought alongside Meek every step of the way.”
The 76ers won 104-91 against The Heat.
Rapper Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in Pennsylvania state prison Monday after violating probation.
According to KYW, the 30-year-old known legally as Robert Rihmeek Williams, was already under probation for a drug and weapons case and has been arrested twice this year.
In March, Mill was charged with a misdemeanor for an altercation with two employees at St. Louis International Airport.
In August, he was charged for reckless endangerment for illegally riding his dirt bike in the Inwood section of Manhattan in New York.
People reported that the charges from the March incident were dropped after Mill agreed to do community service.
Despite his charges being dropped, Judge Genece Brinkley, who had been dealing with Mill since 2008 following a conviction for dealing drugs and gun possession, still sentenced the rapper to prison.
The sentencing also came from other violations of probation. Philly.com reported Brinkley cited Mill and his managers for repeatedly scheduling performances outside of Philadelphia or Montgomery County. At the time, in 2016, Mill was on house arrest for 90 days after violating probation for unapproved travel.
Before being sentenced, Mill said his violations were mistakes and not disrespect of Brinkley or the court.
“I’m human. I’m not perfect,” Mill told Brinkley. “I’m asking for mercy. You gave me the ladder to do what I have to do to prevail in my struggle. I made it this far, I can’t really go back and start over.”
“I gave you break after break and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court,” Brinkley said.
Brinkley ordered Mill be immediately taken into custody. Philly.com reported Mill removed his personal items and handed them to his lawyer, Brian J. McMonagle, before being escorted from the court.
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