As rapper Meek Mill’s legal battles continue, he joined his supporters on Monday to rally for his freedom at a Stand With Meek Mill rally outside Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center.
The rally was held ahead of Meek Mill’s hearing, where his lawyers argued for two hours that there was new evidence that supported his need for a new trial on his decade-old gun and drug possession conviction.
“First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone for coming out and supporting it. It means a lot to me,” Meek Mill told the audience.
He continued: “Actually, last night I spent Father’s Day with my son and if it wasn’t for people like y’all, I wouldn’t be able to be here today to spend time with my son so I want to say ‘Thank y’all.'”
The Dreams and Nightmares rapper told the crowd that he knows they’ll all continue to make a difference and help others like him who don’t have the platforms, people and support that he does which has helped him with his legal battles.
“At one point in my life, I didn’t have this support. I was 18 years old and in the system, I was alleged of a bunch of crimes and I just rolled with the punches. Being as I’m strong enough to make it through that, there are people locked behind the walls, caught up in darkness who don’t have the support,” he said.
“We stand up for people who are caught up in the system that don’t belong there,” the 1942 Flows rapper told a cheering crowd.
“I got to go to court and finish fighting for my freedom,” the 31-year-old hip-hop star said to his supporters.
Two months ago, Meek Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was released from prison, due to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who ordered his release, overruling Philadelphia Judge Genece Brinkley.
Brinkley sentenced Meek Mill in November to two to four years in prison for violating probation related to two charges that were dismissed. She found him in technical violation of probation.
He served almost five months of the sentence before the state Supreme Court ordered his release on bond.
A Pennsylvania judge said Monday she’ll rule in “due time” after an evidence hearing to determine whether he should get a new trial.
Meek Mill’s lawyers have asked for a new trial based on credibility issues with former Philadelphia police officer Reginald Graham, who was pivotal in his arrest in 2007 and who testified at his trial. The Philadelphia district attorney’s office supported the request for a new trial, agreeing before Monday’s hearing that the “Commonwealth does not have confidence in the credibility of Reginald Graham’s testimony in this case.”
The lawyers also agreed that another officer who was part of Meek Mill’s original arrest had given credible sworn testimony that contradicted Graham’s. The district attorney’s office also said it had information as early as 2014 related to Graham’s misconduct that was not shared with Meek Mill’s lawyers until this year.
Despite the agreement, Brinkley scheduled an evidence hearing and said on Monday, she needed more time to review evidence that Graham had credibility issues in this case before ruling whether to allow a new trial.
A different Philadelphia judge has agreed to overturn convictions in at least three other cases in which Graham gave testimony, all without evidentiary hearings. The district attorney’s office decided not to retry those cases.
The Monster rapper’s lawyers said after the two-hour hearing on Monday that the interactions with Brinkley were confrontational. One said Brinkley laughed at testimony from an expert witness, and another said her language during the hearing suggested that she had already decided to rule against Meek Mill’s request.
The state Supreme Court recently split on a request by lawyers to remove Brinkley from his case earlier this month. Three justices said they would grant the request to remove his case from Brinkley, while three others said they would deny it or they had not heard enough to grant the request.
— With files from the Associated Press