Imprisoned Philly rapper Meek Mill's mother on Tuesday called on District Attorney Larry Krasner to "step in" and help her son.
"I'm begging the DA Krasner," a tearful Kathy Williams said during a 15-minute news conference before the start of a criminal justice panel at the University of Pennsylvania's Irvine Auditorium. "Can you please help me out?"
Williams, who took questions from reporters alongside Mill's attorney, Joe Tacopina, ripped into Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley, who sentenced Mill to two to four years in state prison in November after he repeatedly violated the terms of his parole.
"I don't even understand how he's been on probation for that many years. It's like he murdered somebody," she said. "He has to beg to see his son. What kind of woman does that? Is she a mother? Do she have a mother?"
Although it was the first public statement by Williams, it's not the first time her son's representatives have asked the District Attorney's Office to intervene in his case. Ben Waxman, spokesman for the office, declined to comment on the request Tuesday.
A range of other celebrity supporters, including Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and retired boxer Bernard Hopkins, also spoke in advance of the event, called "REFORM: Bringing Justice to Light." The New York-based social justice organization Gathering for Justice hosted the panel with groups from Drexel University, Temple University, and Penn.
Originally charged in a drug and gun case at age 19, the 30-year-old Mill – born Robert Rihmeek Williams – has spent most of his adult life on probation under the authority of Brinkley, a favorite target of Mill and his defenders. The judge most recently hired a lawyer after repeated claims from Mill's legal team that she tried to extract personal favors from the rapper.
"Every time she looks around, the people who she may think respect her are totally ashamed and embarrassed by what she's done to Meek Mill," the Rev. Al Sharpton said of Brinkley during the event. Sharpton had visited Mill at the state prison in Chester, where he has been incarcerated since November.
During the panel, which included comments from criminal justice experts and social justice activists, Tacopina telephoned Mill in prison. Once the hundreds of attendees in the auditorium realized who was on the other end of the line on the speakerphone, the crowd erupted in applause.
"I want to be a light for Philadelphia," the rapper said during the brief call.
The increasingly bitter tangle between Brinkley and Mill's defense team took another twist last month when the Inquirer and Daily News uncovered evidence that Mill's arresting officer, Reggie Graham, was included on a list maintained by the District Attorney's Office of police whose credibility has been called into question, prompting prosecutors to avoid calling them to testify. A former police colleague later said Graham lied to put Mill behind bars.
His case has attracted a who's who of celebrity supporters, including rapper Jay-Z, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and various Eagles players. The Super Bowl champs even took the field in Minneapolis to Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares." The day after the Eagles' Super Bowl victory, "Dreams and Nightmares" was streamed 1.4 million times in the United States.
"Throughout our playoff run, his music was bringing us inspiration and bringing us energy. And at the end of the day, we wanted to bring that support back to him," Jenkins told reporters before Tuesday's event.