Updated Apr. 28
Meek Mill is famously a huge Sixers fan, but he wasn’t at Scotiabank Arena to cheer them on as they faced the Raptors in the NBA Playoffs Saturday.
Why not? The judge overseeing Meek’s probation refused to sign off on his travel request, said Michael Rubin, the Sixers co-owner who befriended the Philly rapper and is working with him on criminal justice reform.
“I know you have a vendetta against Meek Mill and are obsessed with trying to control every aspect of his life,” Rubin posted on Instagram Friday night, addressing Judge Genece Brinkley, who reportedly once asked the music star to record a Boyz II Men cover with a shoutout to her.
“Do you also hate PHILLY?” Rubin wrote.
Other prominent names expressed outrage in the comments.
“Really sad,” wrote Wells Fargo Center host Christian Crosby. “Wow,” said Evan Turner, a Trail Blazers guard who previously played for the Sixers. Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood dropped in the #FreeMeek hashtag, and Miami rapper Zoey Dollaz posted about his disappointment about the judge being black and “doing this to a successful black man.”
Even onetime rival Drake — who is Canadian, and is expected to be courtside with the Raptors for the whole series — weighed in, saying on Instagram, “They gotta let meek into the city it’s only right.”
Anyone on probation in Pennsylvania has to get permission to travel outside the state. For international travel — the Raptors play in Toronto, and have home court advantage — the form must be signed by the consulate general of the destination country, along with the probation officer and the district attorney’s office, after which it gets submitted to the sentencing judge for a final signoff.
Judge Brinkley had approved Meek for travel to various international destinations in March, according to court records pulled by The Inquirer, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UAE.
Rubin, who helicoptered Meek direct from Chester SCI prison to a different Sixers game last year, said on Instagram they submitted the form for approval as soon as the playoff schedule came out.
According to TMZ, the probation officer was fine with the request, but Brinkley continually ignored it. “You didn’t respond to numerous phone calls and emails,” Rubin wrote, adding that a lawyer who physically stopped by the courthouse was also dismissed without getting the needed signature.
Meek Mill, whose full name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, has been on probation for the past 12 years. The situation stemmed from a single arrest back in 2007 by Philadelphia Police Officer Reginald Graham. Graham’s testimony was key in putting the rapper behind bars on gun and drug convictions, but recently many of the cases the officer worked on have been tossed, and Graham has been found guilty of lying under oath and stealing money.
That disparity was enough to get the Pa. Supreme Court to order that Meek be granted bail last year, an order Judge Brinkley had repeatedly refused.
Meek was serving a new sentence of 2-4 years after getting arrested for a fight in the St. Louis airport and pleading guilty to reckless driving (aka doing wheelies on a dirt bike) in NYC. Brinkley deemed those violations of his previous probation, which had been extended for a decade after he traveled outside Philly back in 2009.
Brinkley has made a habit of putting the smackdown on the rhymer — strict travel restrictions imposed by her in 2015 led to Meek’s then-girlfriend Nicki Minaj taking up residency in a Center City hotel.
Despite what his lawyers and supporters say is Brinkley’s obvious bias against Meek, however, the Supreme Court did not remove Brinkley from the case entirely, so she remains his sentencing judge — and the final word on his interstate travel.