August 22, 2019 

By Lapacazo Sandoval 

Contributing Writer


This is an unbelievable true story. It’s so outrageous that if a screenwriter had attempted to write this into a screenplay, they would be shot down in seconds citing that no one, in their right mind, would believe this story.


And yet…


A 19-year-old, African-American man, on January 24, 2007, was arrested on his South Philly doorstep. His name is Robert Rihmeek Williams aka Meek Mill. What happened next, he doesn’t recall. In the Amazon Prime miniseries,“Free Meek,” Williams says that police beat him so severely that he kept losing consciousness. Caught in a nightmare without a chance to wake up when he does, he’s faced with 19 drug, assault, and firearms charges—including the allegation that he’d pointed a gun at a cop. Let’s pause and ponder these allegations for a moment. He, a Black youth, pointed a gun at a police officer and did not die in a hail of bullets? Here is where a Hollywood studio executive would highlight the unbelievable aspect of the fantastical tale.


And yet … because of financial reasons, Robert Rihmeek Williams opted for a nonjury trial and was convicted on seven counts despite a lack of evidence and received a two-year prison sentence.


Welcome to American justice if you are poor, Black and Brown. 


The absurdity of the situations just gets worse. He’s sentenced to eight years of probation supervised by an African-American, female, Judge Genece Brinkley, known for being tough. But there is more, Brinkley seems to have been personally obsessed over this case, pulling the strings of Robert Rihmeek Williams’s life like he was a puppet on a stage. She gave him more than a decade of legal drama, including additional time behind bars.


This is a real story. Imagine how many people have suffered and are suffering in prisons because injustice is as common for Black and Brown people—especially Black men in America—as air is to lungs. This story is front-and-center in the new documentary, “Free Meek” because Robert Rihmeek Williams willed himself to become the successful rapper, Meek Mill, who’s collaborated with Rick Ross, argued with Drake and dated Nicki Minaj. Impacted by poverty, racism and mass incarceration, his relationship with his music (hip-hop) and the corrupt criminal justice system in this country has brought more attention that we, as a country, need to transform the broken system. 


“Free Meek” is direct in giving the gory details. It does not flinch. It’s produced in part by his record label, Roc Nation, with a clear goal, which is to vindicate Meek Mill (32) and to demand permanent changes that could help those that are suffering similar fates across the country. It’s a tall order because the criminal industrial complex is corrupt from the top to the bottom.


In this compelling documentary mini-series and we get the story first-hand from Meek Mill, Roc Nation, including founder Jay-Z and his loyal family. There were so many times his career was damaged because of the corrupt legal system—you understand just how rigged the system is. You can see—clearly—that it’s designed for people to fail and return to prison.


Since this is a series, we see the broader issues of the millions of people caught in the probation system. For those of us that have never had to deal with the crocked system in “Free Meek,” we are shown has just one relatively minor conviction can lead to a lifetime of going in and out of prison. Why? Because of probation violations and how a judge can rule over a person’s life. In Meek’s case, it was the strange behavior of Judge Brinkley whom he claims, in her private chambers, asked him to record a remix of Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” where she would receive a shot out. (The judge denies it).


But the series goes much deeper pointing out the role that dirty cops played in his initial arrest in 2007.


Angry? Confused? Outraged? Good.


It took an entire team of private investigators to dig through the garbage to get Meek Mill free and this after he returned to prison in 2017. Judge Brinkley (a Black woman) then sentenced him to an additional two-to-four years in prison for popping a wheelie on a motorcycle in New York. It gets deeper, even though authorities there had dropped the charges against him. 


Are you shaking your head?


On July 24, 2019, Robert Rihmeek Williams aka Meek Mill’s original conviction was finally overturned. 


The REFORM Alliance was formed in the aftermath of Mill's controversial two-to-four-year prison sentence for technical probation violations in November 2017. This unjust ruling spurred an international #FreeMeek campaign, resulted in his release on bail in April 2018 and ultimately raised awareness to the issues within the American criminal justice system. 


The REFORM Alliance is committed to advancing criminal justice reform and eradicating laws and policies that perpetuate injustice in the United States. To achieve that objective, REFORM will pass probation bills at the state level, use media to amplify the need for comprehensive reform and build an inclusive, bipartisan alliance of leaders who share a vision for ambitiously and efficiently transforming the criminal justice system. 


“Free Meek” is executive produced by Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman and Erin Gamble for The Intellectual Property Corporation; showrunner Michael John Warren; Isaac Solotaroff and Paul Solotaroff; and Shawn Carter, Desiree Perez and Patrick Reardon for Roc Nation.


Prime members can stream Free Meek exclusively via the Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, mobile devices and online at Members can also download the series to mobile devices for offline viewing at no additional cost to their membership. The series is a global release and available for Prime Video members in more than 200 countries and territories.

Category: Arts & Culture