From The Final Call Newspaper

A region and a world on edge
By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent-

Minister Farrakhan warns Muslim world to reject Western interference, seek a way to peace or face war that will destroy the Middle East

Palestinian protesters take part during clashes after protests near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip, May 14. More protests followed in the Palestinian territories on May 15. At least 58 Palestinian protesters were killed and more than 2,000 others were injured at the Gaza-Israeli border during clashes against the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem as well as marking the Nakba Day.

“And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited. And remember Allah’s favour to you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favour you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes clear to you His messages that you may be guided.” —Holy Qu’ran 3:103, Maulana Muhammad Ali translation

On the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and as trouble unfolds in the Middle East, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a divine message of guidance and warning to the Muslim World as tension and pressure rises in the region.

During the Ramadan Prayer Line, where Islamic scholars and Believers from different schools of Islamic thought tune in at 5 a.m. for daily spiritual messages, sayings from Prophet Muhammad of Arabia, and recitations from the Muslim holy book. Minister Farrakhan opened by expressing his desire that the divine month of fasting and prayer be a blessing to every Muslim on the planet and a blessing to all who observe.

Ramadan is a month of fasting during the daylight hours and special prayers Muslims are commanded to observe each year. It started May 16 in the Chicago area.

Fasting is a divine prescription from Allah for the Believers to guard against evil, but evil is everywhere in the Muslim world, and the clouds of war are gathering over the Holy Land, Minister Farrakhan stated during his near 30 minute message.

Allah is the Master of the Day of Requital, meaning He can punish whom He pleases and show mercy and forgiveness for those whom He pleases, the Minister continued. Many in the world of Islam have earned the chastisement of Allah as Muslims are now killing Muslims at the suggestion of evil ones and to the delight of Western governments, he said.

Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian, who died during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, at ahospital morgue in the northern Gaza Strip May 14.
During President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Holy Land, Minister Farrakhan described how the American president pitted Muslims against Muslims, Sunni against Shia, and now there is the Saudi Arabian promise to spend billions of dollars on American weapons. Mr. Trump was feted by the Saudis and spoke to Sunni nations allied with and under the sway of the monarchy against the Islamic republic of Iran and Shia nations.

Israeli border police officer pulls a sign from a Palestinian protestor outside the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem May 14. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a shadow over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.

Now Muslim nations are at odds with nations, said Minister Farrakhan, who was also scheduled to speak at Mosque Maryam, the Nation of Islam headquarters in Chicago, on Sunday, May 27, 2018.

“How can it be a blessed Ramadan with Muslim nations buying weapons from America; training their weapons on fellow Muslims? Muslims in such disagreement with one another that nations are splitting apart from nations and the guns are turning toward Iran and Iran is preparing to fight back?” asked Min. Farrakhan.

“Is this a blessed Ramadan, with blood being shed in the Holy Land over Jerusalem?” he asked. Ramadan is supposed to be a time of great spiritual focus and development, where arguing and fighting is prohibited and Muslims celebrate the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, the Islamic book of scripture.

“Is this a blessed Ramadan when the Muslim world felt the pain of the Palestinians under the tyranny of the Israeli Zionists, but now many of the Muslims have turned away from the suffering of the Palestinians and now their guns are trained at each other?” the Minister continued.

He was referring to the latest deadly violence that broke out in the Gaza Strip, on the Gaza-Israeli border. Thousands of Palestinian protestors gathered near the border March 30 for the “March of Return,” which marked the beginning of a Hamas-led six-week demonstration calling for a return to homes lost 70 years ago during the war connected to Israel’s creation.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Jared Kushner and U.S. President Donald Trump are seen during their meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem.

But not only are the Palestinians denied a return to their land. Bloody and deadly encounters erupted this year as Zionists fired live ammunition on those who protested and tried to break though the fence. Gaza has suffered under an Israeli blockade. Israel, according to the Associated Press, said the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas, which opposes Israel, from building up its military capabilities. But the blockade keeps food, medicine and necessities out of the area.

People knew there would be a lot of demonstrations, but those killed were just protesting injustice, argued John Parker, who is a candidate for Senate in California on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket and anti-war activist.

“Just for that, they’re being assassinated and killed, a death sentence for protesting injustice and that’s what Israel is doing,” he said.

The killings occur with U.S. weapons, from Apache helicopters, to depleted uranium bombs to the billions of dollars that America gives to Israel’s military, Mr. Parker stated.

“Israel couldn’t exist and couldn’t be killing children like they’re doing now without the complicity of the United States, so it’s not only Israel that’s committing this genocide. It’s the United States as well,” Mr. Parker told The Final Call.

Israeli gunfire has killed more than 110 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more since the protests began on March 30. On May 14, 59 people were killed in the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. Some 1,300 others were wounded by live fire, the Associated Press said.

(L to R): Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, May 14.

But, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said May 18 that Israel had not tried to limit casualties during the border protests. According to Mr. al-Hussein, more than 12,000 people were injured and at least 3,500 were hit with live ammunition.

“This is just a continuation of those genocidal policies, and I think they—the Israeli government and (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu—feel more empowered because of Trump,” added Mr. Parker.

Mr. Parker participated in Los Angeles’ May 14 national “Day of Rage,” meant to raise awareness about the suffering of Palestinians.

Last December, President Trump announced a unilateral decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On May 14, two days before the start of Ramadan and as the Gaza protests were underway, the United States and Israel celebrated moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking additional outrage and violent protests.

No president of a Western country ever dared to do that, observed Minister Farrakhan. President Trump also beckoned England, France, and other nations to move their capitals as well, though wise politicians of the past knew that would disturb and anger the Muslim World, he said. Jerusalem has been long designated an international city with claims to it lodged by the Zionists and Palestinians, and its final status was to be part of a final negotiated peace settlement.

John Parker, candidate for the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket, speaks at the May 14 “Day of Rage” protest in Los Angeles against the same day shootings by Israeli snipers of Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.

‘When they moved that embassy to Jerusalem, it negated all of the so-called peace efforts by the U.S. imperialist presidents before. They were not very sincere measures in the first place, but this really was a big slap in the face to anyone wanting peace and justice.’
John Parker, Socialist candidate for the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party

“When they moved that embassy to Jerusalem, it negated all of the so-called peace efforts by the U.S. imperialist presidents before. They were not very sincere measures in the first place, but this really was a big slap in the face to anyone wanting peace and justice,” Mr. Parker said.

Minister Farrakhan pointed out how Saudi Arabia is displeased with the Palestinians, saying they should have accepted a U.S.-Israeli peace plan, but the plan was “rightly rejected.” Saudi Arabia is a major U.S. ally in the region and is seen as a counterweight to the power and influence of Iran, its regional rival. According to media reports, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Palestinians should either accept peace proposals or stop complaining.

“I said it years ago, Israel has not had any peace at that time in 40 years and now it’s going near 70 years. Israel has not had any peace,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Israel will never know peace, as long as there is injustice and lying and thievery and murder and using the holy name of Allah to shield dirty practices, unclean practices, false promises.”

A special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on May 18 ended with a resolution by member states to investigate weeks of violence on the Israeli border with Gaza. Member states adopted the resolution by 29 votes for, two against and 14 abstentions.

“Palestinians have exactly the same human rights as Israelis do. They have the same rights to live safely in their homes, in freedom, with adequate and essential services and opportunities,” said Mr. al-Hussein. Palestinians are “in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; de-humanized by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest,” he said.

Los Angeles was the site of May 14 protests in reaction to Palestinian deaths by Israeli snipers in Gaza.

Israel responded to the special session at the Human Rights Council, saying the meeting was evidence of a politically-motivated “anti-Israeli obsession.”

Minister Farrakhan asked rhetorically: Will the Muslim World be angry at what President Trump and America have done? “Imagine the ambassador to the United Nations saying that Israel has a right to protect her borders. Israel has a right to protect her stolen property? Israel has a right to take that which was granted to her through politics and not from Allah? Do you think that you will stay there?” he asked.

There will be plenty of bloodshed in the Middle East, Minister Farrakhan warned, citing a warning from his teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam. America will have to come out of the Middle East and if not careful, the cost will be tremendous bloodshed, the Minister warned.

Believe it or let it alone, Minister Farrakhan warned further: “Our world of Islam is in serious trouble, and if we don’t stop and take stock of ourselves and turn back to Allah with sincere repentance, the Middle East will be bathed in blood and that blood will come all the way up to Mecca and the Holy House!”

He also warned Muslim nations to heed guidance coming out of the Nation of Islam, saying the Great Mahdi, the prophetic self-guided one the Islamic world is expecting, has made his appearance in North America and deposited wisdom in the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. The Minister urged Muslims to follow the wisdom his teacher has offered and guidance he is sharing, saying his motivation was neither vanity nor ego. He urged the clashing Islamic leaders to sit down and hash out their problems based on the guidance of the Holy Qur’an.

Minister Farrakhan called on Believers to pray for the Muslim world. Without fail, study the Qu’ran every day, gird up their loins, and let this Ramadan be a noble one, he said.

“I was, as all of us, very informed and inspired by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s message, but honestly, it was no new message, because we’ve been at this point before,” said Imam Amin Nathari, founder of the Islam in America Movement.

He recalled that during last year’s message during Eid festival to close out Ramadan, Minister Farrakhan spoke about the reality of war looming in the Muslim world. Minister Farrakhan has been constantly warning as he has served as the Nation’s representative in the absence of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Imam Nathari emphasized.

A look at the history of Ramadan historically will show that some of the most contentious battles fought in the history of Islam were waged during Ramadan, he said.

“For us, we’re not in a full-fledged war where we’re going into our mosques with people in front with tanks, but we know we’re engaged in another kind of war against our open enemy,” said the Islamic scholar and author.

“For us, our war, our jihad, is the struggle to just do what Allah has commanded us to do and there’s no better time to be reminded of our responsibilities to that struggle than during the month of Ramadan,” he told The Final Call.

He feels the Muslim world is a cautionary tale for Muslims in the West to not be divided. “As the (Quranic) verse tells us, ‘We were on the brink of a pit of fire, and then Allah saved us from it.’ That’s one of the cornerstone verses in the Qu’ran that talks about the unity of the Muslims,” Imam Nathari said.

“We can never overstate the importance and value of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, particularly in this hour that we live in,” he added.

One of the beautiful things about Minister Farrakhan is that he’s un-bought, un-bossed, and un-compromised, so he doesn’t have to take a politically correct position, said the imam.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Jay-Z and the SEC: Should We Be Worried?


Jay-Z performs at President Barack Obama’s rally in Columbus Ohio, November 2012. 

Jay-Z, hip hop artist and entrepreneur, has drawn the attention, and, perhaps, the ire of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for his refusal to cooperate in a probe launched by the agency into the financial reporting of licensing and brand management company Iconix Brand Group.

After months of legal wrangling, including two subpoenas sent to Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, seeking his testimony in the SEC investigation, the hip-hop mogul and social activist was finally ordered by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe to answer questions at an undisclosed location on May 15 at Final Call press time.

Jay-Z is the latest in a string of Black male entertainers who have received negative attention in the media. However, being asked to participate in a federal investigation involving a company he no longer owns has raised fears of something more sinister.

Jay-Z also supported more open U.S. policies toward Cuba, supported the movement for police accountability and bailed out protestors, championed criminal justice reform and raised the specter of ugly racism in American life.

He has diversified and expanded a business empire from music to clothing to investments to innovative ways to make more money for artists.

He once owned a piece of the NBA Brooklyn Nets basketball franchise and helped bring the lucrative franchise and a stadium to the borough. He also owned a portion of the arena he sold for over $1 million. Part of his empire includes sports management. One of his clients is NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The rapper, in his latest album 4:44, spoke openly about astute Jewish businessmen and the way they do business, prompting a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League.

Jay-Z performing at O2 Wireless Festival in London, January 2008 “Hova” has come a long way from rapping about riches, partying and the hazards of everyday urban life. His net worth is estimated at $810 million by Forbes magazine in 2018. 

The children of Sean Bell, shot to death by New York police officers in 2006, will benefit from an educational fund Jay-Z set up. The night before his bachelor party, Mr. Bell and two friends were shot at 51 times by police officers. The three detectives doing the shooting were acquitted by a New York judge.

“Hova” has come a long way from rapping about riches, partying and the hazards of everyday urban life. His net worth is estimated at $810 million by Forbes magazine in 2018.

Jay-Z is also involved in a lawsuit with now bankrupt movie and TV production company Weinstein Company over unpaid pilot fees from two projects in the amount of $480,000. The dispute, and other legal woes, is holding up sale of the company. Jay-Z says the Weinstein Co. owes him for pilot fees for the “Kalief Browder Project,” and a “Trayvon Martin Project.” Kalief Browder is a young Black man who committed suicide after traumatic imprisonment and Black teenager Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman electrified the country. The production company in question was founded by prominent Jewish movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Then there are accusations from a Norwegian newspaper that Tidal faked numbers for plays of Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo” and wife Beyonce’s album Lemonade to pump up its numbers for exclusive releases. Tidal, a music streaming service, was purchased by Jay-Z and other artists in 2015, promising more money for artists, better quality audio and artist exclusives. The company vehemently denied the charges of wrongdoing.

Could the questions be pushback from Jay-Z’s economic prowess, social stances, observations about Jewish power and general uneasiness with Black ownership and economic success?

From the bombing of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921, to the Rosewood massacre 1923 in Levy County, Fla., or the 1950s urban removal of the Hayti Community in Durham, N.C., Black independence, self-reliance and economic power have always been seen as a threat.

“This is White superiority and White supremacy, but in a different age and executed in a more sophisticated, boardroom kind of way,” Dr. George Fraser, noted author, and chairman and CEO FraserNet Inc., told The Final Call. “Jay-Z understands that ideas are wonderful, but systems are better. He bought Tidal; that’s a system for the distribution of music which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Black people can create rap music all we want, but we don’t control the system that generates the distribution and profiteering of rap music. Jay-Z understands how that works.”

Jay-Z’s music has tackled political subjects in recent years as has his personal life with calls for criminal justice reform, opening up U.S. relations with Cuba and the hip hop mogul and his wife were big supporters of Barack Obama early in his presidency. Jay-Z’s album 4:44, released in 2017, won widespread acclaim for its content, including “The Story of O.J.,” and an animated short that told of the story of the Black struggle in America, urged rappers to invest wisely and Blacks to seek economic empowerment. It was released as an exclusive on his Tidal platform. The album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with one million copies purchased by Sprint and offered to consumers as free downloads. It debuted high, number one, on the U.S. Billboard 200. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year and “The Story of O.J.” was nominated for Record of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

“As a Black person, you have to be aware that there is a constant war being waged and you have a target on your back. So you have to make sure that everything you do is clean and on point,” hip-hop journalist and activist David “Davey D” Cook, observed. “For somebody who has an album talking about wealth, being a billionaire, and putting money towards different social movements, he’s going to get extra scrutiny and they’re going to find a way to take away some of that wealth as a way to eliminate the competition. Jay-Z has been allowed to make all of the money he has and now that he’s become a little more political, it’s really important that all his ducks be in a row.”

In 2007 Iconix purchased Rocawear, the clothing company co-founded with former business partner Damon Dash for $204 million. As part of the deal, according to the SEC, the hip-hop mogul maintained a partnership with Iconix as it related to the Rocawear brand. In March 2016, Iconix devalued Rocawear by $169 million and in March of this year, wrote it down again by $34 million. The SEC is investigating Iconix to make sure things are legit, especially given the company plans to change its financial reports for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

And, the SEC, claims Rocawear is central in the losses Iconix reported in 2015 and 2017.

“The SEC’s application states that the Commission seeks Carter’s testimony to inquire about, among other things, Carter’s joint ventures with Iconix,” the agency stated as its reason for speaking with Jay-Z, who has failed to appear for investigative testimony twice. However, several companies that Jay-Z owned have submitted approximately 11,000 pages of financial-related communications with Iconix and Desiree Perez, chief operating officer of Roc Nation and S. Carter Enterprises, met with the SEC for seven hours and provided testimony.

Alex Spiro, a partner at the New York-based law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, is representing Mr. Carter in this matter. He argued the SEC’s insistence on having his client testify is nothing more than what he called a “celebrity hunt.”

“The SEC continues to insist on meeting Mr. Carter in person for an unlimited period of time. The upshot imposes unreasonable burdens on Mr. Carter and raises serious questions about whether this exercise has transcended any investigative purpose and crossed over into a celebrity hunt,” Mr. Spiro wrote in legal memorandum, also stating that his client had no involvement in any of Iconix’ financial reporting.

Toure Muhammad noted the multiple ways in which Whites have worked to stifle Black enterprise and business ownership. “If you look at this from the perspective of being an attack on Black businesses and business owners, here’s a brother who put out a very profound album 4:44, and in it he basically said study the Jews,” said the Chicago-based businessman and founder of Chicago Eats. “I don’t know if he heard ‘Business is Warfare,’ the lecture the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gave a few years ago, but Jay-Z highlighted how business really is warfare. And by mentioning the Jews, we know how they can be very opposed to having the spotlight put on them like that.”

“We know from how they came after George Johnson when he agreed to help the Nation of Islam and Minister Farrakhan manufacture the POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth) products at Johnson Products many years ago. We saw what happened with Prince when he wrote ‘Slave’ on his face, Reginald Lewis, the first Black billionaire, or with Carol’s Daughter,” Mr. Muhammad explained. “They’re either going to try to buy us out, take the company or the brand, and sometimes, we die under mysterious circumstances. But we have enough historical evidence to rightly wonder if this is another targeted attack on a successful Black businessman.”

Jay-Z’s meeting with the SEC is expected to last no longer than the day as he prepares to embark on another U.S. tour with his wife, Beyonce. It remains to be seen what part his testimony will play in the SEC’s investigation into Iconix, but count Jay-Z as just the latest Black celebrity and businessman to have his legal woes play out in public for the world to see.

“I’m smart enough to know that White folks will be White folks at the end of the day. This is what they’re going to do because it’s about the protection of their assets,” Mr. Fraser said. “And if those assets are diminished in any way and they can point to some high profile, successful brother or sister to lay the blame on, then that’s what they’re going to do. That’s what they do and it’s always been that way and it will always be that way until we replace them when it comes to power, systems and infrastructure.”

From The Final Call Newspaper

Meek Mill Freed

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent

The Re-Education of Meek Mill - A rapper’s plight highlights power of judges and broken probation system touching millions

Philly rapper Meek Mill, Robert Rihmeek Williams, is out of prison.

But he says he doesn’t feel free, though out on bail while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions. He goes back to court in June.

Meek Mill has seen a massive show of support from fans, powerful, prominent political figures, including Philadelphia’s mayor and the governor of Pennsylvania, celebrities, even prosecutors have complained about an out of control legal system.

The “Dreams and Nightmares” lyricist represented by rap mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation says now that he’s out of prison, a lot of people who face similar battles with the criminal justice system are depending on him.

“I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time. While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive,” tweeted Meek Mill, who faced a hard childhood. His father was gunned down when the rapper was age five.

After being whisked by helicopter from prison with Philadelphia 76er’s co-owner Michael Rubin, Meek Mill rang a replica Liberty Bell April 24 at center court of the NBA team’s first-round clinching playoff game less than two hours after his release.

He was let go after the state Supreme Court directed Judge Genece Brinkley, who had jailed him, to immediately issue an order letting him out.

Meek Mill was sentenced on November 6, 2017 to two to four years behind bars for probation violations. He had been arrested last year after a fight, and then after popping a motorcycle wheelie while filming a music video, according to his lawyer. The charges from the fight were dropped and those from the wheelie incident were dismissed. Judge Brinkley, however, ignored recommendations from the prosecutor and his probation officer that he be freed.

The ruling came after prosecutors said they agreed with his lawyers that he should get a new trial because of questions about the arresting officer in his case. A now-retired officer, Reginald Graham, was among a list of police officers the prosecutor’s office sought to keep off the witness stand in cases across the city because of credibility questions.

Mr. Graham, the sole witness in Meek Mill’s initial case, testified that he saw the young man sell crack cocaine, pull a gun from his waistband, and point it at cops as they tried to arrest him, according to media reports. In a sworn affidavit, former cop Jerold Gibson said Mr. Graham lied under oath to get Meek Mill sent away on drug and gun charges in 2008. He was 19 years old.

The rapper’s lawyers are seeking to have the conviction thrown out and a new trial.

The district attorney’s office has not said whether they would seek to retry him if the old convictions are thrown out.

But prosecutors have declined to prosecute three defendants in other cases because of doubts about the credibility of arresting narcotics agent Graham, the same officer who had arrested Meek Mill. Over 100 convictions could be overturned because of questions about narcotics agent Graham.

Questions about a judge and probation violations

Judge Brinkley, who had refused to release Meek Mill on bail until the Supreme Court ruling, was accused by the defense of waging a vendetta against the rapper.

She contends she acted “impartially and without prejudice” in all proceedings since 2008. She sentenced him to five months in jail in 2008 and then probation. But over the years, probation violations resulted in additional time being added to his terms of probation.

The violations over the years included traveling out of town to perform without permission, failing a drug test, failing to come to court and failing to meet with his probation officer.

By last year, after nine years of probation, many felt Meek Mill was on the right path and should be released.

His lawyers also complained that the judge, who at one point ordered Meek Mill to take etiquette classes, was too personally involved in his case. They accused her of asking the rapper to remake the Boyz II Men song “On Bended Knee” and shout her out. And, the lawyers accused the judge of asking the rapper to sign with a friend and leave Roc Nation.

It has been reported that the FBI is looking into the judge’s handling of the case.

A new focus, fight for talented rapper?

Meanwhile, Meek Mill said he plans to focus on getting his convictions overturned, and that he looks forward to resuming his music career.

“Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” he tweeted April 24.

“I’m very happy to see that the brother has been released and that he can come back into the world and recontribute the best of himself,” said ZaZa Ali, educator, author, and radio host based in Atlanta. She wrote Meek Mill when he was in jail.

“One of the things I said to him was you have a great responsibility with your music,” Ms. Ali said. “But even before he went to jail, he was talking about Lean. He was talking about drugs, and the negative impact that they had on him. He was speaking out about racism, White supremacy, so, we’ve got to give him credit for the emphasis that he’s putting into becoming a better person.”

Lean, or “purple drank,” is prescription cough syrup combined with codeine, soft drinks and candy.

Meek Mill can become a symbol for justice reform by making his word bond and using his platform to address mass incarceration, commented Gregory Muhammad, who is based in Philadelphia and leads the Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministries in the Delaware Valley Region.

There needs to be independent monitoring of judges’ court sessions by outside agencies to capture abuses, said Mr. Muhammad. “During the election season, citizens or voters don’t acknowledge the enormous power judges and district attorneys possess, so, the voters take these two elections lightly,” he said. “The people themselves can prevent this abuse of power or abuse of discretion of judges by voting for a more honest and morally conscious judge.”

Millions on parole, probation in U.S.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 4.5 million people in the U.S. are on probation and parole. Its researchers say Meek Mill’s case has brought attention to how people are recycled back into prisons and jails.

“The Pennsylvania Community Corrections Story,” one of two reports published in April, shed light on the system that “stalked” Meek Mill for close to a decade.

“Unfortunately, Pennsylvania serves as a good example of how high rates of probation and parole can go hand-in-hand with, and contribute to, high incarceration rates. Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate in the Northeast, coupled with the third highest percentage of its citizens on probation and parole in the country,” wrote Columbia Professor Vincent Schiraldi, who authored the report.

While one out of every 53 adults is supervised by probation and parole nationally, in Pennsylvania, one out of every 34 adults is under community supervision, a rate 36 percent higher than the national average.

What Ms. Ali found most disturbing about Meek Mill’s case is that a Black woman was at the helm. It’s important to have Black elected officials, but they don’t matter if they’re doing the bidding of Whites in continuing the degradation and incarceration of Black men, she insisted.

“We could say she’s (Judge Brinkley) infatuated with this man. She’s obsessed with him, or she’s taking orders from someone higher up. The bottom line is that she has been the focal point and the face for limiting this brother’s process and then eventually imprisoning him,” Ms. Ali stated.

As for those who say no need to focus on Meek Mill because of his money and celebrity, “shame on us as a people,” Ms. Ali lamented. Celebrity is a double-edged sword, sometimes they get too much credit, and at others they don’t get enough, she explained.

“In the most simplest idea of this, Meek Mill is still a man. He’s a Black man. He made mistakes when he was young, and he’s still paying for mistakes he made when he was young, paying way too heavy of a price,” Ms. Ali argued.

“I think that as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad talks about, ‘The Proper Handling of People,’ that applies to celebrities as well, and we need to re-cultivate our empathy and compassion for one another whether it’s a celebrity or whether it’s not.”

Davey D, hip-hop activist, journalist and radio personality, noted many people are juxtaposing Meek Mill with political prisoners. The argument is being made about freeing the rapper, and no one’s talking about freeing political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal and other folks, he said.

“First, we should never forget our political prisoners, but part of the reason we even have political prisoners is because they were fighting the injustices that visited a Meek Mill,” Davey D told The Final Call.

“In other words,” he said, “a lot of our political prisoners were there because of the criminal ‘injustice’ system. And so we should not bemoan, be upset or be surprised when people want to fight the criminal system when it’s relatable to them.”

Meek Mill is relatable to his fans, who may not know of former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal, while advocates for the longtime political prisoner and others know nothing about the rapper, said Davey D.

“It’s not an either/or, but it’s a both/and as organizers and communicators, it’s up to us to connect the dots,” Davey D said. “Instead of just focusing on this as an individual act, frame the conversation as something that’s systemic.”

“Meek Mill is part of a long line of people who have been put in jail, and keep in mind, there’s a bunch of people who have family members who ain’t rappers or former Black Panthers who are going, ‘to hell with Meek Mill and to hell with Mumia,’” Davey D noted.

Activists, organizers and communicators must probe the judge’s actions, her power, the oversight or lack thereof, and see how to deal with those who abuse power and make changes so everyone can benefit, he said.

It’s good that Meek Mill wants to help folks and bring attention to the atrocious injustices of the system, but don’t expect him to do the heavy lifting or expect to see overnight sea change, Davey D cautioned.

“But heck, if Mill can do a song, concert, shout out one or two political prisoners and bring attention to their plight, I think that’s great … and it’s something we should angle for,” Davey D stated.

Also, look at the record labels, what role did they play, and do not let them off the hook, Davey D continued. What are they doing for artists, and what resources are they devoting on behalf of Meek Mill, did they write letters on his behalf, and do they have training for artists on how to walk the straight and narrow? he asked.

“Are they waiting to capitalize off of Meek Mill coming out of jail primarily because the community rallied, so we can go Meek Mill straight out of jail, and they have a marketing tool for records to be sold?” Davey D continued.

“My thing is f--k them labels if they didn’t pick up a dime to help … since they make profit coming and going. They make profit off of Mill when he was talking about doing criminal stuff, and they’re going to make profit off of Mill when he actually serves time for criminal stuff and actually gets out of jail in a highly publicized case.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)