Last month, Robert “Meek Mill” Williams inspired a few too many headlines: Judge Genece E. Brinkley sentenced the rapper to 2-4 years of jail time for a probation violation that originated from a 2007 case, when Williams was only 19-years-old. At that point, the teenager known as Meek Millz, sometimes just Mills, was starting to gain buzz for his street freestyles popular on local street DVDs and on YouTube.
Now, in 2017, Meek’s unjust sentencing has become a rallying cry for social change around criminal justice reform, inspiring celebrities like Colin Kaepernick and Jay-Z to speak out. While the fight to #FreeMeekMill continues, the rapper sits in the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford in Montgomery County. It’s a long and arduous case, and we wanted to provide necessary context for his ongoing legal battle, one that has lasted an entire decade. So why is Meek in jail? Read on.
January 24, 2007 - Meek Mill Arrested on 50 Charges
Meek Mill was arrested in Philadelphia on over fifty counts, including aggravated assault, carrying firearms in public, the reckless endangering of another person, and a number of other charges. “I was 18, just turned [into] an adult when I went to jail,” he told MTV News in 2012. “I caught a case and had 57 charges. Young guys that get caught with a gun—they’re gonna automatically charge you up. All I did was walk outside with a gun.”
August 24, 2008 - Meek Mill Releases His Flamers Mixtape
Still waiting for the sentencing for his 2007 arrest, Meek Mill signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records in the summer of 2008 and released his debut solo mixtape, Flamers. That tape sparked one of Mill’s first local hits, “In My Bag,” a wired track that preceded many of his eventual crossover high-energy hits (“Imma Boss,” “House Party”).
January 16, 2009 - Meek Mill Sentenced to 11 ½ to 23 Months In Jail
Meek was found guilty on seven charges from the initial 2007 arrest, including unlicensed carrying of firearms; carrying a firearm in public in Philadelphia; possession of an instrument of crime with intent; carrying a loaded weapon; intent to manufacture and/or distribute drugs; intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person who is not registered; and simple assault. Judge Genece E. Brinkley handed down a jail term of 11 ½ months to 23 months with seven years of probation to follow.
February 24, 2009 - Flamers 2 Released
While in jail, Mill’s Flamers 2 mixtape was released. The opening of the mixtape features Meek Mill’s DJ at the time, DJ Difference, and his friend Omelly, talking to Mill while he was incarcerated. He mentions signing with Grand Hustle and his local Philadelphia success despite being behind bars.
June 12, 2009 - Motion For Early Release Filed
The court documents for Mill’s case show a motion for the rapper to be released early, on June 12, 2009. The following month, on July 22, DJ Difference uploaded a video of Meek Mill the first day he was released from jail. In it, Meek discusses leaving jail, returning back to his hometown and spitting an early version of what would become the single “Make Em Say.”
February 9, 2010 - Flamers 3 Released
The third and final installment of Mill’s Flamers series is released in collaboration with DJ Drama, who was raised in Philadelphia but by then was known for being an Atlanta star. Mill’s prominence in the rap community continued to grow.
May 12, 2012 - Meek Mill Signs With Roc Nation
Mill signs with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, one of the biggest management companies in music. This will prove relevant later, in court.
December 17, 2012 - Judge Brinkley Prevents Meek Mill from Performing Outside of Philadelphia
In late 2012, Mensah Dean of Philly.com reported that Meek Mill missed a November 5th drug test. Court records show that Mill was found in technical violation of probation after missing court dates on May 10th, July 31st, and October 31. Dean detailed the tension that was rising between Mill and Judge Brinkley over these missed court dates:
In rejecting Mills’ request to be able to travel to gigs over the next month, Brinkley noted that he failed to show up for a court-scheduled drug test Nov. 5, his parole officer could not always account for his whereabouts, and his management team scheduled the St. Thomas concert even after he was told at a Nov. 19 hearing not to schedule any more appearances after Dec. 16, in anticipation of Monday’s ruling.
Court documents showed that Judge Brinkley stated Mill wouldn’t be allowed to perform outside of Philadelphia. The document reads:
Defense Motion to Vacate Revocation of travel pass as of 11/19/12 is Denied. The defendant is not to travel to any venue for profit until after 01/16/2013. The defendant has been ordered to set up a telephone with voicemail for communication with the probation officer.
March 15, 2013 - Meek Mill Asked To Attend Etiquette Classes and Detail Travel Plans
After being found in technical violation of his probation, Meek Mill was asked by Judge Brinkley to attend etiquette classes:
After hearing, the defendant was found to be in technical violation. Probation Continued. The defendant is to comply with the travel regulations of the Probation Department and Interstate Compact Laws.The defendant is to take an etiquette class as per the court’s discretion
June 30, 2013 - Radio Personality Dyana Williams Assigned to Teach Meek Mill’s Etiquette Classes
Judge Brinkley placed a hard deadline of August 4th for Meek Mill to compete etiquette classes with radio personality Dyana Williams and continue to get court permits to continue traveling. The following year, Philly.com reported that Dyana Williams offered positive feedback on Meek Mill’s appearances at her etiquette classes saying she’d “be proud to have him in my family, as a son or brother.”
July 11, 2014 - Meek Mill Sentenced to Jail for Parole Violation
Judge Brinkley sentenced Meek Mill to three to six months for repeated parole violations that dated back to 2012, and those stemming from his original 2007 arrest.
December 2, 2014 - Meek Mill Released from Jail
XXL reported that Meek Mill was out on his parole violation charge a month early, as the maximum sentence could’ve kept him in jail until January 11, 2015.
December 10, 2015 - Meek Mill Sentenced to 6-12 Months on House Arrest, Six Years of Probation
Pitchfork reported that Meek Mill was found on his fourth probation violation in December 2015 that lead to house arrest for 6-12 months with six years of probation.
February 5, 2016 - Meek Mill’s House Arrest Sentence Shortened to 90 Days for Parole Violation
Billboard reported that Meek Mill’s house arrest sentence was shortened to 90 days. He’d begin serving on March 1, 2016, where he wouldn’t be allowed to work and was required to do daily community service.
March 15, 2017 - Meek Charged With Assault at St. Louis Airport
Meek Mill was involved in a St. Louis International Airport altercation when a fan tried to get a photo with him, according to TMZ. Meek Mill, along with two airport employees, were charged with misdemeanor assault.
August 18, 2017 - Meek Mill ATV Arrest in NYC
Meek Mill, after performing his politically charged single “Young Black American” on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, was arrested in Inwood, a neighborhood in north Manhattan in New York City, for driving an ATV. The charge was reckless endangerment, but when he appeared in court, the charges were reduced.
October 11, 2017 - Meek Mill Agrees to Plea Deal
XXL reported that on October 11, Meek Mill agreed to a plea deal, where he’d only serve 20 to 30 hours of community service.
October 24, 2017 - Mill’s Airport Assault Case Gets Dropped
According to XXL, Meek’s attorney Joe Tacopina revealed that the rapper accepted a deal with his prosecutors. The misdemeanor assault charge is dropped.
November 6, 2017 - Meek Mill Sentenced to 2-4 Years In Jail
Judge Brinkley sentenced Mill to two to four years in jail, despite his two prior 2017 cases being dropped. “I’m human. I’m not perfect,” Mill said to Brinkley, according to Philly.com. “I’m asking for mercy. You gave me the ladder to do what I have to do to prevail in my struggle. I made it this far, I can’t really go back and start over.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, who were on the scene, wrote the following:
“I gave you break after break, and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court,” Brinkley told Mill. She said Mill’s sentence would be served in state prison, where he would be eligible for state parole supervision after two years.
“Then I’ll be done with you,” Brinkley added.
November 7, 2017 - Meek Mill’s Attorney Says Judge Told Mill To Leave Roc Nation & Sign With Her Friend
Meek’s attorney Joe Tacopina criticized Judge Brinkley, telling Billboard:
“She’s enamored with him. She showed up at his community service for the homeless people. She showed up and sat at the table. She’s a judge. You could pull any judge in America and ask them how many times they’ve showed up at a community service for a probation and the answer is zero...
...[This is] a judge crossing the line of professionalism and traditional conduct, [who] will make the request that Meek Mill re-record a famous Philadelphia pop band, Boyz II Men’s song “On Bended Knee,” where he concludes with a tribute to her and mentions her by name in the song. And he, of course, was laughing and thought it was a joke, she said, “I’m serious.” He refused to do that.
So, that, right there, was a totally an inappropriate request. When she requests he leaves his current management Roc Nation — which is one of the most important management companies in the world — and goes back to a local Philadelphia guy who has a spotted past because she had a personal relationship with him as manager, again, she’s doing something that a judge would never be doing, having a personal interest.”
November 13, 2017 - Philadelphia Marches For Meek Mill
Outraged by the ongoing imprisonment of Mill, citizens of his native Philly marched in his honor after #FreeMeekMill trends.
November 14, 2017 - FBI Launches Investigation Into Judge Genece Brinkley
The FBI investigates Judge Genece Brinkley after Meek’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, accused the official of showing “enormous bias” against the MC and acting “inappropriately” by repeatedly asking Meek to drop Roc Nation, his current management, and sign on with local music mogul Charlie Mack, with whom Meek worked early on in his career. Page Six reports that undercover FBI agents had been in the courtroom monitoring the Mill case since April 2016, but that remains unconfirmed.
November 15, 2017 - Meek Mill Files Motion to Appeal His Prison Sentence
On Wednesday, November 15, Meek Mill filed a motion to be released from prison and to terminate his probation, according to Billboard. Citing court documents, Billboard also reported that Meek’s team officially requested that Judge Brinkley be recused from considering the appeal and “from any further adjudicatory role in this case.”
December 11, 2017 - Meek Mill’s Team Asks for the Judge to Recuse, Again
As public support for Meek Mill continues to grow, the rapper receiving love from Al Sharpton, Colin Kaepernick, and Jay-Z, who penned a New York Times op-ed, Mill continues to face an uphill battle. On December 11, he appealed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and was denied. Most recently, his team asked for a recusal by Judge Brinkley, because of her overly close involvement with the case that exceeds judicial bounds.
We will update as Meek Mill’s legal battle continues. Know something we don’t? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.