November 13, 2017
A week after Philadelphia native and hip-hop star Meek Mill was handed a two-to-four year prison sentence, several hundred supporters turned out in Center City on Monday night to protest what they believe was an unjust ruling.
The 30-year-old Mill, born Robert Rihmeek Williams, was booked last Wednesday at the Camp Hill state correctional institution, prompting outrage from peers in the hip-hop community and others who questioned the severity of the punishment.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley, citing parole violations from a nearly decade-old gun and drug case, justified the harsh sentence as a consequence of multiple incidents, including a pair of 2017 arrests for fighting with a fan in St. Louis (charges were later dropped) and illegal dirt-bike stunts in Manhattan.
Mill and his managers were also faulted for scheduling concerts outside the court-approved territory of Philadelphia and Montgomery County.
The rally began 5 p.m. outside the Criminal Justice Center at 1301 Filbert St.
Speakers included Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, 76ers legend Julius Erving, state Rep. Jordan Harris, producer Rick Rubin, and fellow musicians Freeway and Justin Sky.
The crowd at the Free Meek Mill rally just sang “Dreams and Nightmares.” pic.twitter.com/9a5GqX4Smj— Dan McQuade (@dhm) November 13, 2017
More than 300,000 people have signed a petition asking the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons to grant relief in Mill's sentence, noting that prosecutors and his probation officer both recommended against prison time. Even Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin, writing to the judge ahead of the sentencing, defended Mill's character and requested an alternative to incarceration.
"While he may come from a different world an upbringing than many of us, we all recognize his talent and the impact he can have in the broader community," Rubin wrote. "Our world is too often divided. We need people like Meek that can be the bridge-builders and difference makers to pull people of all walks of life together."
Full details about the "Rally for Meek" can be found at the event's Facebook page.