Jay-Z, Meek Mill Launch ‘The Avengers’ of Criminal Justice Reform Organizations

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, 76ers owner Michael Rubin were among those who pledged $50 million to The Reform Alliance in Manhattan on Wednesday

Michael Rubin, a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, used to have a recurring argument with the rapper and hardcore 76ers fan Meek Mill. “Meek would say, ‘Michael, there are two Americas,’” Rubin recalled during a press conference at John Jay College in Manhattan on Wednesday. “I’d be like, ‘Bro, what are you talking about?’”

Then in November 2017, Rubin watched in court as the rapper was sentenced to two to four years in prison for doing wheelies on a dirt bike, an action that was deemed a violation of the terms of his parole. “An hour later, my phone rings,” Rubin remembered. It was Mill, who called to say, “I told you so! … I told you there were two Americas!” “You were right,” Rubin concluded, “and I was dead wrong.”

That realization set the scene for the foundation of the Reform Alliance, a new initiative dedicated to changing the “illogical laws that make no sense,” but rule the lives of the estimated 4.5 million Americans currently on parole or probation. Mill and Rubin announced the formation of the organization on Wednesday with other wealthy business and/or sports-team owners, including Jay-Z, Robert Kraft, Clara Wu Tsai, Daniel Loeb and Michael Novogratz, who have pledged a combined $50 million to this effort. (They took the stage after the Beatles’ “Revolution” played over the loudspeakers.) TV host Van Jones, also on hand at John Jay, was picked to lead Reform. “This started off as a buddy movie,” he quipped. “And it’s now become The Avengers.”

Representatives from one of the Americas appeared to awaken publicly to the plight of the other during the press conference. After a brief address from Mill, who declared his intention “to speak for the people who don’t have a voice,” Rubin noted that the rapper “taught me so much about a world that I didn’t understand at all, about the great injustices that are going on.”

Rubin wasn’t the only one speaking with the zeal of the newly converted. “I’d never been to jail before,” Kraft told the crowd. “Going there and seeing [Mill after an invitation from Rubin], I didn’t sleep the rest of the night when I got home — I was thinking how out of touch someone like myself is with what’s really going on.”

Novogratz struck a similar tone. He remembered visiting a New York City jail barge after watching Time: The Kalief Browder Story — executive-produced by Jay-Z, who was mostly quiet on Wednesday — a docuseries about a young Bronx native who died by suicide after spending over 1,000 days in pre-trial detention. “I looked at this metaphor, this slave ship, and I was like, I live in New York City… how can this be happening?” Novogratz said. “I was ashamed.”

By Elias Leight

Source: RollingStone