After a heated two-hour hearing in a Philadelphia courtroom Monday afternoon, no progress was made regarding Meek Mill’s legal efforts to get a new trial. Judge Genece Brinkley, who has overseen the case since its start 10 years ago, said she needed more time to make a decision.
Outside the Criminal Justice Center, upwards of 200 people packed Filbert Street in support of the Philly-born artist, despite near-unbearable heat and humidity.
Organizers from Justice League NYC were passing out boxed water to keep people hydrated, as well as “Free Meek Mill” t-shirts and posters that read “Justice 4 Meek” and “Dismiss the case.”
The West Powelton drum squad, which has been a part of the 76ers drumline for four seasons, performed throughout the day.
The hip hop superstar spoke to the crowd at around 1 p.m. before entering the courtroom to face Brinkley for the first time since she sent him to prison without bail. He touched on how much he appreciated the support, and said his supporters were the reason why he was able to spend Father’s Day with his son.
“I hope we get people behind people like myself,” Mill told the crowd, “and we stand up for people who don’t belong in the system.”
Back in 2007, it was Philadelphia Police Officer Reginald Graham who arrested Meek Mill, whose full name is Robert Rihmeek Williams. Graham’s testimony was key in putting the rapper behind bars on gun and drug convictions. However, since then, Graham has been found guilty of lying under oath and stealing money.
Over the past few months, three other cases that depended on Graham’s testimony have been thrown out. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has stated it would not oppose a new trial for Meek — but legally, the case is still under Brinkley’s jurisdiction, so she has the final say.
At the rally outside the courthouse, a big theme was standing up for everyone, and not just Meek or other celebrities.
“Our work is not done,” said Temple professor, CNN commentator and activist Marc Lamont Hill. “Meek is a representation of every one of your brothers, every one of your sisters, every one of your neighbors, everyone who is under the same system designed to cage us. We don’t just free Meek, we free everybody.”
After Lamont’s speech, chants of “Free ‘em all!” erupted through the crowd. At other times during the afternoon, chants like “Throw the case out!” and “Drop the case!” could be heard.
After over three hours, Mill, along with his attorneys, returned to address the crowd — and the news wasn’t the dismissal supporters were hoping for.
Joe Tacopina, one of Mill’s lawyers, noted that the hearing made him feel like he was in a “kangaroo court.” Per NBC10, Brinkley’s lines of questioning caused another one of Mill’s lawyers, Brian McGonigle, to accuse her of sabotaging the case.
“We will finish this,” Tacopina told the crowd. “This fight is a long way from over, and when it’s over we will be standing.”
“I came into this situation not really thinking anything good was gonna happen in that courtroom,” Mill said, “and it was what I thought it was.”
He added one more shout to the people assembled on the street Monday afternoon: “I just wanna say thank you for standing with me and supporting me.”
June 30 has been reported as Brinkley’s new deadline for making a decision.