Buju’s lawyer seeks mayoral spot in Mississippi

Chokwe Lumumba.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Grammy-winning dancehall recorder and convicted Florida inmate Buju Banton may have to yield to his attorney’s busy political campaign schedule when he makes an appeal for a retrial of a case he was convicted of two drug charges and placed him in a Tampa, Florida prison for 10 years.

The reason is that the lawyer hired by the deejay — Chokwe Lumumba, a high-profile, human rights activist – is now seeking the top political spot in Jackson, Mississippi.

Lumumba recently announced his candidacy for mayor and could prove a formidable challenger in the 80 percent African American southern city when he runs in the Democratic primary in May.

“There is an opportunity now to bring a new vision to Jackson that will bring economic development and needed jobs to greater Jackson and not just downtown,” Lumumba said. “Public funds must be used for the benefit of the majority of the residents of Jackson not for the private benefit of a few. That’s why I’m running for mayor.”

The human rights advocate who is demanding a retrial because a juror’s alleged misconduct may have resulted in Banton’s conviction has often highlighted the alleged disproportionate number of Black business owners in his resident state.

Currently a city councilmember there, he is now seeking to advance his political ambition as well as add to his reputation as a criminal defense lawyer.

Two years ago, a Tampa jury found Banton guilty of charges surrounding conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Lumumba was not the defense lawyer then, he was retained after the deejay was sentenced. Lumumba has successfully represented rapper Tupac Shakur, Black Panther Assata Shakur (Tupac’s step aunt) and Lance Parker, a Black man accused of assaulting a white truck driver during the 1992 Rodney King riots in California.

In making his announcement he promised to bring new economic ideas that benefit the residents of Jackson. He also vowed to bring transparency to government affairs and repair long standing city service issues – primarily roads and water supply.

Lumumba said he will run a grassroots campaign by reaching out to professionals, working class and poor communities and intends to prioritize his campaign with the needs of the common people.

“We intend to make the People’s voice the centerpiece of this campaign. By that we mean we will exchange ideas with the people and allow them to have a voice in the working of this city. The people of Jackson will participate in molding this campaign and my administration that creates a participatory democracy. As we say the people must decide the future of Jackson; we can continue to limp along or take bold initiatives to bring economic justice and jobs to the people of this city.”

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