On Monday, Philly rapper Meek Mill’s mother, Kathy Williams, wrote an op-ed directed at an allegorical Lady Justice, pleading for her son’s freedom and rallying against a racist, broken criminal justice system.
A quick refresher: Meek Mill sparked national attention when he was sentenced to 2-4 years in prison last November, stemming from a 2007 arrest when he was just 19-years old. The #FreeMeekMill movement followed, inspiring local protests around the perceived injustice by the courts (and they’re right to call it what it is—prejudice—as Mill’s arresting officer was just last month named on a list of “untrustworthy” Philly cops.)
Support for Meek Mill over the last few months has only grown: Jay-Z wrote a New York Times op-ed; the Philadelphia Eagles, who won the 2018 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, used his single, “Dreams and Nightmares,” as their intro music; even Olympians have taken note.
His mother’s plea is the most personal appeal we’ve seen to date—she’s had to watch her son, over the course of 11 years now, navigate a prison system that continues to wrong him.
Dear Lady Justice:
I was always taught — and always believed — that you, Lady Justice, were fair, impartial and balanced. That was until you took my son from me at the tender age of 19. His whole life he was struggling with the death of his father and the void of my presence since I worked three jobs to keep the lights on. In fact, he would hardly utter a word and mostly stayed quiet until he started rhyming.
My son was given a gift and he has been able to flourish with it, a gift that’s more like a savior. It has introduced him globally to many and given him opportunities to grow as a professional and as an individual. Like all of us, he has had ups and downs, but always pushes forward with hope and a sense of survival.
The problem is that the justice system has failed my son at every turn and hasn’t let go. You, Lady Justice, have allowed corruption at the highest levels of the system, and cruelty and spite have cast doubt on your very foundation. You are supposed to balance fairness and blindly always do what’s right, yet injustice has taken 11 years of our lives. My son had to choose between seeing his child and his mother in a hospital or going to prison. My son – who was 19 when he was introduced to the justice system – has been scarred physically and emotionally by your betrayal, and now you threaten his own son’s sense of security.
Today feels heavier because, now that the truth has finally been revealed, for some reason Lady Justice you are not weighing in. Where are you? The District Attorney and Governor Wolf had the courage to say let my son out of prison due to this injustice. You’ve taken his innocence and abused his pride. He’s suffered loss of family and freedom. No human being should know his truths and be accosted by lies and false judgment under your shelter.
I thank God for the humbling moments, when I’ve fallen to my knees and prayed for the strength to continue to help my son and for God’s Will to invoke compassion and courage for those who can do something about all this wrong.
You have wrongfully convicted a black man in prison, that is a profound reality in America. We have given you all the evidence and all the reasons his case is a symbol of the problem in our justice system.
On behalf of every mother whose son suffers the cruelty of unjust punishment, I now beg you to hear the words of the DA and the Governor and release my son.
Each time I talk to my son, he gives me the strength to carry on and promises me that upon his release he will fight for other men whose voices are not heard. Give him that chance.