Jamaicans hold firm to Buju’s innocence

Jamaica reggae star Buju Banton.
AP Photo/Yesikka Vivancos, file
AP Photo/Yesikka Vivancos, file

Supporters of popular, reggae, dancehall, deejay Mark Myrie AKA Buju Banton are sad but resolute that last week’s guilty verdict is tied to a campaign to quash his anti-homosexual stance.

Distressed that jurors in Tampa, Florida agreed Myrie is guilty of three of the four charges he was indicted — conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense, and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offense – some claim he will be vindicated in appeal because the decision was baseless.

Disappointed that the jury took 11 hours over a two-day period to decide the fate of the 37-year-old they believed Myrie would be vindicated of all charges.

Shock and disbelief were evident when jurors returned the guilty verdict.

During the four-day trial, it seemed an almost national consensus was reached that victory was imminent. A majority of Jamaicans held firm to the fact, the entertainer was not guilty and would be freed of all charges.

Their conviction may have been compounded in December when bail was granted and furthered when a judge permitted Banton to perform at his own fundraiser in Miami.

The fact the deejay’s “Before The Dawn” CD was voted best in the reggae category one day before his trial at the Grammy Awards bolstered hopes that the title was a prophetic preview of the outcome of his case.

“How can they give him a Grammy one week and then lock him up the next?” Larry Jones, a fan asked.

The two unrelated events provided argument for the controversial trial which many are convinced was a set up, baseless and to many proved only that Myrie is guilty of boasting, talking too much and too trusting of a stranger who in actuality was an informant for the Federal government.

“We love and support Buju,” Jones continued, “Buju will prevail and we will support him, everytime.”

Banton was found not guilty of a fourth charge — attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.

At press time a sentencing date was still pending. Myrie could serve a lifetime in jail with 15 years a minimum. He was returned to custody immediately after the verdict was read.

“Our life and our destiny are sometimes pre-destined and no matter where this journey takes me, remember I fought the good fight,” Myrie said after hearing the verdict.

“It was a great man that said my head is bloody but still unbowed I love you all thank you for your support,” he added.

His fans are hoping the judge will be lenient during sentencing, allowing time already served (11 months) as justification for a minimum penalty with provisions to impose a deportation order for Myrie’s return to his birthland Jamaica.

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