Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: 30-year-old rapper, Meek Mill, who has been incarcerated since November 2017, was released on bail, Tuesday afternoon, on the orders of the supreme court of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin posted a picture on Instagram celebrating Meek’s release from prison. “@meekmill is FREE!!! Just left visiting Meek with @kevinhart4real and I’m on the way back to pick him up as we speak! #MeekisFree #GoSixers,” he wrote.
Michael Rubin picked up Meek Mill in a helicopter number N223KR shortly before 7 p.m., Tuesday, from the prison outside of Philadelphia.
Mill’s case became a flashpoint for criticism of the criminal justice system and its treatment of African Americans. His imprisonment prompted an outcry from celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Colin Kaepernick and Jay-Z, who penned an op-ed late last year in which he wrote the situation was “just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day”.
In November, Meek Mill – born Robert Rihmeek Williams – was sentenced to two-to-four years in prison after Judge Genece Brinkley determined that he was in violation of his probation. Mill’s attorneys said the sentence was unjust and accused the judge of showing “enormous bias” against the rapper. They alleged Judge Brinkley of making inappropriate demands in private, including requesting that Mill give her a shout-out in a song and requesting that he leave his management at Roc Nation in favor of Philadelphia music figure Charlie Mack, of who she was an associate. The FBI subsequently launched a probe into the allegations.
Beyond the alleged misconduct of the judge, Mill’s sentencing was seen as emblematic of the country’s broken criminal justice system and its unfair treatment of black adult men. In an op-ed published to the New York Times, JAY-Z argued that Mill’s case was “just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day.” Specifically, JAY-Z took issue with probation, or as he called it, “a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
In Mill’s case, his probation stemmed from an 11-year-old case. The charges that led to his “violation” were minor in nature — he was arrested for popping a wheelie on a motorcycle on the set of a music video — and were later thrown out. What’s more, both the prosecutor and the parole officer recommended no additional jail time for Mill. Judge Brinkley disagreed, however, unilaterally deciding Mill’s actions warranted a minimum of two years in prison. Even after the allegations of misconduct surfaced, the judge refused to recuse herself from the case and denied Mill’s repeated requests for bail, saying he was “a danger to the community.”
On Tuesday, Mill told TMZ: “I’d like to thank God, my family, my friends, my attorneys, my team at Roc Nation including Jay-Z, Desiree Perez, my good friend Michael Rubin, my fans, the Pennsylvania supreme court and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time.
“To the Philadelphia district attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice – not only for my case, but for others that have been wrongfully jailed due to police misconduct,” he continued. “Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, 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.”
Minutes after news broke, Mill wrote: “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.”
Mill, who is managed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, is best known for the 2012 single Young & Getting It, which debuted at No 2 on the Billboard Hot 200.
UPDATE: Rapper Meek Mill, just freed from prison, rings bell before start of Game 5 of Sixers- Miami Heat series in Philadelphia Tuesday night.