Meek Mill is no longer on probation
The North Philly rapper’s charges were dropped this morning, ending a 12-year battle with the state’s criminal justice system.
A 12-year legal battle has finally come to a close, as Meek Mill is finally free.
On Tuesday, after Mill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office dropped all other charges against the North Philly rapper.
“Meek freed, I’m not on probation no more,” Mill said in front of a crowd of more than 100 people gathered outside the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice, chanting “Free Meek” and rallying in support.
This ends a more than decade-long saga for the 32-year-old rapper (born Robert Rihmeek Williams), who has been on probation for nearly his entire adult life.
I’m extremely grateful that my long legal battle is finally behind me and I appreciate that it has sparked a much-needed discussion about probation reform and the inequalities that exist within our two Americas. pic.twitter.com/noDEA1HaRd
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) August 27, 2019
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) August 27, 2019
“I know this has been a long road for you and hopefully this will be the end of it,” Judge Leon Tucker told Mill after the decision.
The situation originally stemmed from an initial arrest in 2007 and subsequent conviction in 2008, which led to several more years of probation.
“I just want... to thank all the supporters… and I will continue to do what I do with the reform movement and help the people that helped me,” Mill continued.
Mill has become an activist and prominent face in the fight for criminal justice reform since he was released from state custody in April 2018, after serving nearly five months for violating his probation. In Jan. 2019, Mill, along with rapper & entrepreneur Jay-Z, political commentator Van Jones, Philadelphia 76ers partner Michael Rubin and many others, officially launched the REFORM Alliance, a new initiative focused on overhauling the probation and parole system. The initiative’s goal is to free at least 1 million people who are incarcerated, within the next five years.
Mill’s freedom today is a positive step, however, the numerous speakers at the rally adamantly made a point to remember the tens of thousands of people of color who are also currently fighting against, or are affected by, the justice system.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is currently looking to pass House Bill 1555, which would reform how long Pennsylvanians stay on probation, as well as the time served in prison for probation violations.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Jordan Harris said that probation is broken in the state, and it is the representatives in Harrisburg who are responsible for fixing the system currently in place.
“The system shouldn’t be to hold us back… it should be a system that helps people reintegrate back to society,” he said.
“This is why we introduced House Bill 1555,” he added. “Because what we understand is that the only way to fix this unjust system is for us to work...beyond parties, and to see the people of Pennsylvania.”
The current structure of the justice system makes it easy for anyone who lacks the money or resources to be free to remain in the system. This disproportionately impacts people of color, and those who aren’t a public figure.
“Meek’s story is our story,” Carmen Perez, president and CEO of Gathering for Justice and co-chair of the Women’s March, said. “It highlights how Black and Brown people continue to be targeted and pay a higher price when it comes to the criminal justice system.”
For those who aren’t well-known, they may stay behind bars for years or even decades for a simple technicality, and in some instances, for a crime they didn’t commit. No matter the person’s race or economic status, the system should give everyone a fair chance.
“We cannot forget about those who are locked up that have no resources,” Tamika Mallory, political activist, said.
In a similar sentiment, Keir Bradford Gray, chief public defender for Philadelphia, said the fight doesn’t end today but will be ongoing.
“What we should be doing is making sure that we don’t even just rally for the Meek Mills of the world, but we rally for those who don’t have that voice,” she said.