Over a dozen celebrities are asking President Donald Trump to grant clemency to former rapper Loon, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for a minor role in a non-violent drug offense.
The letter, which was sent to Trump this month (June 13), was signed by Snoop Dogg, former NBA champion Kevin Garnett, music industry executive Jason Flom, movie producer Scott Budnick (The Hangover), Grammy-winners Faith Evans and Stevie J, Roc Nation rapper Freeway, Baby Bash, fashion model Jeremy Meeks, and recent clemency recipient Alice Johnson, whose sentence was commuted by Trump after a widely circulated campaign by Kim Kardashian West.
Addressed to Trump, former record producer turned criminal justice advocate Weldon Angelos, questioned Loon's (born Chauncey Lamont Hawkins, now Amir Junaid Muhadith) lengthy sentence and pointed out Muhadith's adjusted lifestyle after the offense happened.
"We strongly urge you to grant him [Loon] a presidential commutation of sentence without delay,” he wrote. "It’s ridiculous that this talented individual was given such a long sentence for merely making an introduction. What purpose is served by keeping him in prison? He completely changed his life around years before he was indicted. This is just another example of a wasteful and destructive criminal justice system.”
Muhadith was originally sentenced to 14 years on charges of conspiring with intent to distribute one or more kilos of heroin in 2011. The former rapper, who was signed to Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records, explained the nature of his case. BET reported he declined a trial due to his prior felony convictions but maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal. In 2008, Muhadith claimed he took a call from someone who presented him with an opportunity "totally away from the lifestyle he was living," but because he "made an introduction," he was named an accessory in the drug case.
That same year, Muhadith converted to Islam after a tour stop in Abu Dhabi. He also ended his solid music career which included the release of hits like Diddy's "I Need A Girl Part 2," and collaborations with the likes of Kelis, Toni Braxton, and 3LW.
In a statement to VIBE, Muhadith thanked his supporters and discussed the importance of dismantling stigmas that are linked to "a broken and unjust system."
“It is only through the overwhelming push by this administration to change the state of our criminal justice system that real progress is finally being made," he said. "Alongside an extraordinary group of individuals such as Weldon Angelos, Jason Flom, Faith Evans, Kevin Garnett, Jessica Jackson Sloan at #cut50 and so many others who are not only advocating on my behalf but seek to support broader change for a broken and unjust system. It is through my own desire for change and the support of so many that I return back to society as an asset to my community, a loving husband and father, and an advocate in our battle for real criminal justice reform.”
The push to free Muhadith stems from Angelos, the founder of The Weldon Project. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness and social equity in the cannabis industry as well as helping with financial aid for those currently serving prison sentences for non-violent cannabis offenses.
"Loon’s [Muhadith's] case is a prime example of a criminal justice system that simply warehouses inmates and does not make us any safer," Angelos tells VIBE. "Prisons should be reserved for those who pose a risk to public safety. What purpose is served by keeping him in prison any longer? Loon reformed himself years before he was even arrested. And his sentence for a minor role in a nonviolent drug offense is longer than what the federal guidelines recommend for rape and kidnapping. It’s ridiculous."
"But I’m confident that the president will carefully consider his petition and the views of those who are asking him to commute it. We had an amazing show of support by those in the entertainment industry who signed onto Loon’s letter and who also care about criminal justice issues, and I look forward to building a bridge between this group of signers and the White House to see where we can work together to achieve additional reforms."
Muhadith is scheduled for release in November 2021. Learn more about The Weldon Project here.