Supporters of the jailed rapper Meek Mill held a rally Monday night outside a Philadelphia courthouse — as his lawyers prepared to ask the sentencing judge to quit the case.
The performer, born Robert Williams, was sentenced to up to four years in state prison on Nov. 6 by Judge Genece Brinkley for violating his probation from a 2008 gun and drug case after two minor arrests in New York and St. Louis.
Protesters chanted “F— the judge” and sang Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares.”
Mill’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said he will file motions to ask Brinkley to recuse herself and reconsider what he says is a harsh sentence. Mill is confined to his cell 23 hours a day in state prison in Camp Hill, Pa.
“If recent history and (Brinkley’s) pattern are consistent, both motions are probably a waste of the paper they are printed on,” Tacopina said. “After that, we will go to higher courts.”
Mill, who had been on probation for almost a decade, was arrested in March after he got into a fight in a St. Louis airport.
In August, he was charged in New York with popping wheelies on a dirt bike and failing to wear a helmet. The charges were dismissed.
“Philly, I am speaking at the #Rally4Meek today,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins (pictured) posted on Twitter.
Brinkley said the rapper also failed a drug test and claimed he didn’t get her OK to leave Pennsylvania.
“I’ve been trying to help you since 2009,” Brinkley told Mill in court recently. “You basically thumbed your nose at me.”
Clarise McCants, community justice campaign director for Color of Change, a civil rights organization, said Mill’s case is just an example of what black people face in communities across the country.
“It’s bigger than Meek,” McCants said. “Everybody has somebody in their family that has been caught up in the probation or parole system.”
At his sentencing for the probation violation, the prosecutor and the probation officer said Mill should not serve any jail time, but Brinkley ignored them.
“I’ve tried thousands of cases and it’s the first time in my life I have ever seen that happen in a courtroom,” Tacopina said.
Comedian Kevin Hart tweeted, “Let’s go Philadelphia…. #FreeMeekMill.”
(Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Tacopina said the judge’s claim she was not notified about Mill’s travel is false.
“Not only was she notified, she approved (the trips), and we showed emails in court to that effect,” he said.
Former NBA great Julius Erving, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, rap producer Rick Ross, Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry and other stars attended the rally.
Tacopina has charged that Brinkley was romantically drawn to Mill’s celebrity status, and felt rebuffed by the rapper.
Tacopina alleged that Brinkley once asked the 29-year-old rapper to re-record the Boyz II Men song “On Bended Knee,” and conclude the track with a tribute to her. Mill refused, thinking it was a joke.
Brinkley hasn’t responded to the claims.
With Leonard Greene