“This is not about an artist. This is about a system.”
Reverend Al Sharpton has announced plans to visit Meek Mill in prison this coming Monday, according to The New York Daily News. Sharpton will meet with Meek at the Pennsylvania prison, where he is being held after being sentenced to two to four years behind bars due to two probation violations stemming from arrests in which charges were later dropped.
“I think this is about an injustice that is representative of many young men of color that face an abuse of a probation or parole system,” said Sharpton at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network Saturday. “This is not about an artist. This is about a system.”
Sharpton feels Meek’s case is representative of the mass incarceration that has affected black men throughout history. “I think what’s happening with Meek Mill is something that the National Action Network has always fought, and I hope that me going there is going to raise the pressure on the issue and help begin a drive by us in supporting others and demanding a new hearing for him and a new judge,” he said. “This has happened to countless young black men, and Meek Mill represents that, and he can be an example of how we correct that.”
Jay-Z has also spoken out about the unfair treatment of Meek Mill, who was sentenced to prison time despite his probation officer and prosecutors advising against it. “On the surface, this may look like the story of yet another criminal rapper who didn’t smarten up and is back where he started,” he wrote in an Op-Ed for the New York Times. “But consider this: Meek was around 19 when he was convicted on charges relating to drug and gun possession, and he served an eight-month sentence. Now he’s 30, so he has been on probation for basically his entire adult life. For about a decade, he’s been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside.”
“If they can do this to someone with the profile of a Meek Mill, imagine what they’re doing every day,” says Sharpton.
Meek’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina has argued that Genece Brinkley, the judge who sentenced Meek, has a persona vendetta against the rapper. Tacopina previously filed paperwork to have Brinkley removed from the case.