The #FreeMeekMill campaign lives on as #JusticeReform
Following his release from prison earlier this week (April 25), Meek Mill has spoken about his desire to maintain the momentum of the #FreeMeekMill campaign, and spread it to the entire American justice system.
The 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Robert Williams, was arrested in August 2017 for reckless driving. While the charges were dropped and jail time wasn’t recommended, Philadelphian Judge Genece Brinkley still sentenced Mill to a minimum of two years in prison for violating his probation from a 2008 gun and drug case. The judge cited a failed drug test and Mills’ failure to comply with a court order that restricted his travel.
Mill's sentencing was met with staunch criticism, with many, including the rapper’s legal team, suggesting that Judge Brinkley had acted with impropriety. The decision also highlighted the inherent failings of the American probation system, which, according to the #FreeMeekMill campaign, is one of the biggest drivers of mass incarceration. Writing an op-ed for The New York Times, fellow musician Jay-Z suggested that America’s criminal justice system “entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day”.
Now, following his release from prison after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered he be set free on unconditional bail, Meek Mill has spoken about how he wants the movement that rallied around his sentencing and advocated for his release to continue.
Speaking to NBC News, Mill said that, despite being let out of prison, he didn’t feel free.
“I ain’t feel free since I caught this case at the age of 19. I’m 30 now," he told NBC’s Lester Holt, before stating that he now had a responsibility to due to his position in the public eye. “I’ve got a lot of important people depending on me, and not talking about the people, the public officials, I’m talking about the men that’s depending on me that are going through the same thing I’m going through,” he said.
“Let's now retire #FreeMeekMill and make it #JusticeReform," he finished.
Mill's comments come after he shared an Instagram post in which he reiterated his continuing dedication to justice reform. “I understand that many people of colour across the country don’t have that luxury,” he wrote, “and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues.”
In a country with a swollen, broken prison system, and where African-Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites, more must be done to help people in similar situations who don’t have the help of being in the public eye. You can find out how to donate and support prison and justice reform organisations based in the United States here.