Last week, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill — born Robert Rihmeek Williams — was sentenced to a minimum two-year prison sentence by Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley. The sentence —made against the recommendation of the Assistant District Attorney and Probation Officer— stems from a violation of probation linked to a 2008 gun and drug case.
Soon after the ruling, JAY-Z, Kevin Hart, T.I., Angie Martinez, Rick Ross and other celebrities rallied in defense of Meek, who they believe was sentenced harshly considering his two charges: reckless driving in New York City and a misdemeanor assault charge in the St. Louis International Airport that was dropped. There was even a petition signed by over 350,000 people to appeal the ruling.
As reported by The New York Post, Meek’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina claimed that Brinkely showed “bias” towards the rapper when she sentenced him to two to four years for violating the terms of his probation. Tacopina also asserted that back in 2013, Brinkely privately requested that Meek remake Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee,” and give her a shoutout.
On Thursday, the rapper reported to a state prison in Camp Hill, PA.
Following last week’s sentencing, a rally was held in Meek’s hometown to protest the unjust ruling. Many have made the argument that police officers have received less time combined for killing unarmed citizens. And the double standard is clear when Meek’s case is put up against more heinous crimes committed by White suspects.
That isn’t lost on activist Carmen Perez. The Gathering for Justice’s executive director, founder of the Justice League NYC and Women’s March co-chair, spoke to ESSENCE about that standard and why Meek’s case is important for the fight for equality and criminal justice reform.