His op-ed in support of Meek Mill packs a punch
Rapper Meek Mill has had his bail hearing cancelled “due to an administrative error”, after being sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison for violating his probation terms.
A chart-topping artist, perhaps best known otherwise for his rap feud with Drake and relationship with ex-girlfriend Nicki Minaj, the rap community has rallied around him, with the #FreeMeekMill hashtag becoming a trending topic earlier this week.
“On the surface, this may look like the story of yet another criminal rapper who didn’t smarten up and is back where he started,” Jay-Z wrote in an op-ed published November 17 for the New York Times, referencing Mill's case.
“What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day... Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime.”
In the essay, Jay-Z also pulls up the fact that as of 2015, a third of the 4.65 million Americans on parole or probation were black.
As highlighted in Ava Duvernay's seminal documentary, 13th (which examined how black people are treated by the criminal justice system in the America), black men account for an estimated 6.5 per cent of the US population, but 40.2 per cent of the prison population.
Mill's original conviction was for illegally possessing a firearm and assaulting the police. “I was 18 and got beat up by a cop and almost killed by cops,” he explained to Billboard in a recent interview. “I was just a statistic coming up... The cop gave me a 100 charges with trying to kill a cop. I don't want to kill a cop.”
Now 30, he's been on probation for 11 years. A probation violation landed him three months under house arrest last year, but prosecutors did not recommend jail time for both of his more recent violations. Nevertheless, Judge Genece Brinkley still sentenced Mill to prison.
Judge Brinkley also handed Meek Mill his original sentence in 2008, and it's been claimed by his lawyers that she has an unprofessional relationship with the rapper – with reports suggesting that the FBI might be investigating the case.
On Wednesday, November 15, Mill's lawyer confirmed with Billboard that he was filing a motion to be released from prison and for his probation to be terminated, but thanks to the admin error, it looks like Mill will have to sit tight.