By: Brandon Zamora
About 3 weeks ago I watched a documentary series on the famous rapper, Meek Mill, and his journey through our legal system. This man was in and out of jail starting as a teenager. This documentary, Free Meek, taught me about our criminal justice system in ways that were mind blowing and the documentary included some statistics that were mind-boggling. His documentary series changed my view of both our criminal justice system and even the judicial system.
This documentary took me back to when I was 16 and a junior in high school. I had a run in with an officer outside my friend’s house. I was parked outside waiting for him to come out so we could go eat. As I’m waiting a Los Angeles County Sheriff officer pulls up next to me asking what I was doing in this neighborhood and on this street at this time -- which was around 11pm. I told him I was waiting for my friend so we could go eat. He proceeded to ask me if I was selling or purchasing marijuana. I replied, “I don’t smoke dude.” This really upset the officer and that’s where it all started.
The officer says, “What the fuck did you just say?”
My response to him was the exact same as the first time, “I don't smoke dude.”
He continues to ask me what I said then he says, “What the fuck did you just call me?”
“Dude?” I reply.
After this he tells me to step outside my car then he puts me in handcuffs and says, “I’m not your fucking friend don’t call me that.”
He pats me down then puts me in the back of his cop car and does whatever cops do on their laptop. The officer keeps talking to me while I’m in the back of his car and tells me I was being disrespectful and threatens to impound my car. At this point I’m pondering what kind of a crazy man this officer is and how he completely takes advantage of the power he has as a police officer. I felt like this officer had it out for me for no particular reason. In the documentary series the judge appointed to Meek Mill’s case seems like she has a personal vengeance with this man who is a complete stranger to her -- just like the officer who harassed me.
Our criminal justice system is very one sided and leans in favor of officers regardless of the facts. I’ve seen videos on social media of police officers abusing their power and it’s frightening. The lack of consequences these officers have is sickening. Some officers even get away with murdering innocent civilians. My situation was not as extreme as that luckily. or me to say I was lucky to only get harassed by a police officer is still unacceptable -- that someone in a position of power can get away with something like that is unacceptable. In Free Meek, the arresting officer says that Meek Mill pointed a gun at him and that was one of the more serious offenses.
Robert Williams, also known as the rapper Meek Mill, had his first encounter with our criminal justice system was in the year 2007 but he faced 19 counts against him a year later in 2008. He was found guilty of 7 charged and faced 2 years in prison and 8 years of probation. In the documentary Meek Mill thought he was lucky to be only sentenced two years and didn’t understand what probation was, so he didn’t pay any attention to those eight years. This probation is what prolonged his entrapment in our criminal justice system. The judge ruling this case felt that she did him a “favor” and was trying to help this young man, but her ruling did the complete opposite. After serving his prison sentence Meek Mill would eventually run into problems with his probation because of his job and his need to travel to promote his work. Meek Mill was in and out of prison because of his probation. In one instance the judge ruled that Meek Mill couldn’t work on music for months. This was his job and had nothing to do with his case, this is another example of someone in a position of power abusing the power they possess. Meek Mill eventually hired private investigators to look over his original case in which they found some problems. The arresting officer of Meek Mill was found out to be a part of a special task force that was completely corrupt. The private investigators were called by a police officer who knew the arresting officer and knew of what was going on in that task force. After presenting this information to the judge she still denied Meek Mill’s freedom. His lawyer then appealed in the supreme court where they the initial ruling was overturned.
There are many officers and judges in our criminal system who take advantage of people simply because they can get away with it. Meek Mill was lucky enough to have the resources to hire an attorney and private investigators but imagine if he didn’t? He might still be in prison to this day. In Free Meek one of the attorneys said, “It is better to be rich and guilty than to be innocent and poor.” This documentary was a real eye opener and reminds me of my run in with the law. It goes to show that our criminal and justice system needs to be better.
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