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Last November, Meek Mill appeared in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for violating his probation. Even though neither the city prosecutor or the probation officer recommended jail time, the rapper — born Robert Rihmeek Williams and raised in North Philly — was sentenced to two to four years in prison and denied bail.
The ruling shocked observers for its harshness, and in the five months since Judge Genece Brinkley handed it down, Mill’s case has garnered national attention.
Celebrities began showing up to local protests, like the rally one week after the sentencing that brought out basketball great Julius Erving, rapper Freeway and Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, and colleagues decried a system that too easily puts black men like Mill behind bars (see former rival Drake’s shoutout during a show, or this New York Times editorial by Jay-Z.)
Recent developments have made Mill’s extended imprisonment even more controversial. The Philly Police officer whose testimony originally helped convict the rapper has been identified as a cop who often gave false statements; three separate cases he participated in were just dismissed. DA Larry Krasner’s office has publicly stated it will not press for Meek to be denied bail while he appeals his original conviction. Brinkley, however, continues to deny the rapper a chance at freedom.
So for now, Mill is still sitting in a cell at Chester SCI, a state facility about a half hour south of Philadelphia in Chester County.
But he hasn’t been entirely alone. Since his November incarceration, Mill has welcomed many people dropping by to show support. Although inmate visitor logs are exempt from public disclosure under Pennsylvania Right to Know laws, per Dept. of Corrections records officer Andrew Filkosky, many of these visits have been reported.
Here’s a rundown of the high-profile names who’ve made the trip to see Meek Mill in prison.
Rev. Al Sharpton
The reverend paid Mill a visit in November alongside his lawyer, Joe Tacopina of New York. Sharpton told reporters outside the Chester SCI that he met with the rapper because he’s a symbol — he represents all African Americans who are “victimized by abusive, probationary, parole systems that give room for judges to act way beyond what is necessary.”
He also urged people to speak out against racial injustice in the prison system beyond advocating for the rapper.
“If you can do this to a successful artist like Meek Mill, you can do this to many around the country,” Sharpton said.
Like, everyone from the Sixers
Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin first visited Mill in prison last November, with star player Joel Embiid by his side. Since then, one thing has become clear: a whole bunch of the 76ers support the incarcerated rapper enough to visit him multiple times. (Eagles players have shown support in other ways, like choosing Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” as their Super Bowl anthem — but not by going to the actual prison, at least not publicly.)
Following in the footsteps of Embiid, 76ers rookies Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz paid the rapper a visit on the afternoon of April 7. And then Rubin visited him again a week later. Advocating for a better process in which to trust?
A basketball player from…Houston
James Harden, a starting guard for the Houston Rockets, visited Mill in December between games and after a Christmas day loss in Oklahoma City.
“Got a chance to see my bro Meek Mill today,” Harden wrote in an Instagram story post. “His spirit is high and hopefully we can get him out by February.”
Mayor Jim Kenney
Per a City Hall spokesperson, Mayor Kenney spent an hour with Mill at the Chester State Correctional Institution on the morning of April 11. He was invited by Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin, who has advocated for Mill’s release (see below).
After the visit, a Kenney spokesperson said the mayor believed the rapper would “better serve the community outside of prison,” but that he wouldn’t necessarily support the growing campaign for Meek’s immediate release.
The owner of the Patriots (?)
Remember that second visit from Rubin, the co-owner of the Sixers, just a couple weeks ago? He didn’t go alone. Strangely enough, he brought with him Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots.
Kraft isn’t known for his activism; he’s known as a loyal supporter of Donald Trump. But Kraft must also put a lot of trust in Rubin, because the Meek visit had him singing an activist tune.
“He’s an amazing young man,” Kraft told NBC10. “Every time I see him, I just come away more impressed. He’s very intelligent. And it makes it clear to me we have to do something with criminal justice reform.”
CNN’s Don Lemon
Meek echoed Kraft’s sentiment last week in one of his first public statements since being denied bail. Following a visit on April 13 by CNN host Don Lemon, Mill called into the show live from prison to urge people to vote if they want to effect change.
“Let’s vote for people that’s into justice reform and helping the urban community,” the rapper told Lemon on air. “We’re being affected by it, but we’re not voting.”
Mill’s next hearing in front of Judge Brinkley is scheduled for June 18.