Inside Meek Mill’s Rally For Justice in Philly

"Justice wasn’t done today, but we didn’t expect justice from Judge Brinkley," said Meek's attourney Joe Tacopina.

Meek Mill’s ongoing criminal case was set to take a dramatic turn on Monday. The controversial judge Genece Brinkley—who (reportedly) requested that Meek give her a shoutout on a song—was getting ready to make an important ruling. The judge readied to decide whether Meek’s initial conviction, the one way back in 2008 that started all his legal problems in the first place, should be thrown out, and whether he should get a new trial.

To show Meek that he had community support, Roc Nation, Tidal, and Justice League NYC put together a rally for the rapper outside the courtroom. There was a drum line, speakers including Marc Lamont Hill, Freeway, and Meek himself, and plenty of the rapper’s music blasting over the PA.

In early 2007, Meek was arrested and charged with assault and gun and drug possession. He was convicted in August of the following year and eventually served five months behind bars.

Since being paroled in June of 2009, Meek has had a series of minor violations that have landed him back before a judge. In November of last year, Judge Brinkley sentenced him to two to four years for violating probation. Meek was paroled this past April.

“He’s been on probation for over 10 years,” explained Didier Morais, a director at Berk Communications. “The hope is that we can overturn this unwarranted conviction.”

On Monday, Meek was filing a PCRA (Post Conviction Relief Act) petition, arguing that the officer who arrested him a decade ago, Reginald Graham, had a history of racial bias and lying—it came out earlier this year that Graham was on a list of dirty cops put together by the District Attorney’s office.

In the courtroom, only one witness was heard from: Bradley Bridge of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, who argued in favor of overturning the rapper’s conviction. Judge Brinkley, according to accounts of courtroom observers, asked Bridge a ton of questions during the course of the nearly two-hour hearing, while the D.A. had relatively little to say. That was not surprising, given that going into the hearing it was already known that the District Attorney’s office does not oppose a new trial.  

Justice wasn’t done today, but we didn’t expect justice from Judge Brinkley.

This lack of witnesses was also expected. Brinkley had the sole power to determine whether a witness was credible—a determination that would be the case going forward in any further legal action. So Meek’s team likely didn’t want to risk any valuable witnesses being disqualified from any future appeal or retrial.

After one witness and nearly two hours, Meek and his lawyers emerged from the courtroom and spread the word: there was no decision. The judge announced that she would come to a verdict by June 30.

Meek’s lawyers, despite the non-event, were happy that they got to present evidence. Attorneys Joe Tacopina and Brian McMonagle addressed the crowd.

“We didn’t expect anything from Judge Brinkley,” said Tacopina. “But we made a record. There’s an appellate division with very smart people up there who are going to read this record and be as offended as everyone was today... Justice wasn’t done today, but we didn’t expect justice from Judge Brinkley. And at the end of the day, Meek is going to be relieved of this burden. His case will be dismissed, will be overturned, and he’ll be free.”

McMonagle continued on the same theme. “This is an outpouring of love. What we faced upstairs was nothing like this. Obviously upstairs we didn’t get the kind of fairness and impartiality that we had hoped might be possible. But I’m going to tell you this: at no point in time will we give up. At no point in time, no matter what door somebody upstairs tries to slam in our face, we will finish this. We’re going to finish this with this injustice overturned. This fight is a long way from over. And when it’s over, we will be standing.”

Then it was time for Meek himself. After bringing someone onstage to take a picture of the crowd so, he said, he would get everyone who showed up to support him free concert tickets, he expressed his thanks.

“I came into the situation today not really thinking anything good was going to happen, and it was what I thought it was,” Meek said. “I just got up here to thank y’all for coming out to support me, and supporting the other men and brothers who’s caught up in this system in the same way.”

Latest in Music