Buju’s Defense Team Hold Press Conference on Capitol Hill

 The Banton’s New Attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, Describes Buju as  a “Political Prisoner” 

The road for reggae star Buju Banton has not been easy since he began serving a 10-year bid on federal drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. Incarcerated in a Florida prison, Banton maintains his innocence and is resiliently working on getting a new trial as he now gears up to fight a gun possession charge that was previously dismissed in his 2011 sentencing. After severing ties with lawyer David Oscar Markus in late August, Banton hired veteran attorney Chokwe Lumumba to represent him in his legal battles. Lumumba, who previously worked on the cases of activist Assata Shakur as well as Tupac Shakur, hosted a press conference in Washington D.C. to engage with Buju’s fans and supporters and bring them up to date about where the case stands. Photos and More After the Jump… 

Yesterday, Boomshots got the opportunity to listen in as members of the NAACP, the National Black United Front, and fellow reggae artists Gramps Morgan and Stephen Marley spoke on the panel.

In just two months of representing Banton, Lumumba has already made progress by getting a judge to postpone last week’s gun possession hearing after learning that juror Terri Wright admitted to violating federal court regulations by researching the artist and the trial online.

Lumumba has filed two motions—one to reconsider and reduce Banton’s sentence and another for a new trial based on jury misconduct. “We’ve got to work on people’s consciousness right now before they get to the courtroom. We’ve got to change people’s way of thinking before they get to the courtroom. We can’t sit back and assume they’re not going to think a certain way once they get into the courtroom,” said Lumumba. “Some lawyers think that if you try to ‘sanitize’ or hide everything controversial about your client from the public, this will make you safe and secure and you’ll wind up being found not guilty. That’s a myth. The reason that it’s a myth is because people don’t leave their minds outside the door when they come into the courtroom. We’ve got to work on the conscience of the public right now so that we will understand and celebrate what [Buju] does rather than having people condemning what he does. That’s the true route to victory.”

Directing the conference’s focus on what can be done to help Buju financially, Lumumba was joined by Nkechi Taifa, Senior Political Analyst of Open Society Foundations who stated that the legal team is looking forward to writing letters, reaching out to spiritual leaders in the Maroon community and hosting benefit concerts.

“There’s a group, a very embryonic group called Celebrities for Justice who were supposed to have a representative here,” said Taifa. “They are based out of New York and are looking at cases and initiatives that are specifically focused on the war on drugs so hopefully there will be a whole lot of other artists coming out on this particular case and others as well.”


Though Stephen Marley played more of an observer role on the panel, singer Gramps Morgan spoke on the brotherhood that all three men share and acknowledged that Marley has been a key player in helping Buju and his family: “I’m Gramps and I’m standing here for him. Next to me is Stephen Marley—the king of reggae’s son. He’s put up the roof over his head in support of Myrie aka Buju Banton.”

Near the end of the conference Chokwe Lumumba reiterated to the crowd that Buju is a political prisoner. “Buju Banton told me he’s a political prisoner, so he’s a political prisoner. I think he is a political prisoner. There is a generational gap between the struggle to free political prisoners and the struggles of young people. [Buju is helping] to keep the act of freeing political prisoners a relevant one to all generations that exist right now.”

In support of Lumumba’s statement, Salim Adofo, Vice Chair of National Black United Front said “Buju’s freedom is going to be contingent on how much we do in the streets.” Turning to Buju’s legal team, he addressed the committee and tells them “Y’all can do the work in the suites, we’re gonna do the work in the streets.”

Reporting by: @brittneyinHD and @zariapoem

12 Responses

  1. Let Buju back to his people and do what he’s best at fee speech via reggea music… Love Ya Buju keep safe and Bless up!!!!

  2. Jessica says:

    Smelling Good when you smoke is no problem at all. For anyone at all. Including Mr. Buju and his friendsz, familyi, & loversz. Set Mr. Buju free.

  3. Christian says:

    wouldn’t be nice if well known Jamaican artists like Gramp and Sephen Marley would hold a press confrence about condemning violence made towards gay people. But no, majority of Jamaican artists act like nothing is happening. But hey, you’ve got a man that went to jail for cocaine charges and is using american tax payers by requesting another process over and over. All evidence seems to point out that he’s guilty, but he is such an icon that majority of reggae fans are calling for ‘justice’ (?!) What about the ugly song ‘Boom Bye Bye’ that he wote in 1992 and he never distance himself from this mistake and even said in recent interview that his ‘family values haven’t changes’ Come on. I still remember that process where he was accused of beating up gays in June 2004. One of the guy that got severly beaten lost his eye. When the process occured, people who needed to testify where too afraid to go to the Jamaicanm court room, because there was about two hundred fans waiting outisde and shouting ‘Boom Bye Bye’. He got away with it because the judge said there wasn’t enough evidence, because people wouldn’t testify. Try and find Amnesty International report on what happend that day. If your heart is at the right place, the glow of this artist may slowly start to fade. You can find Amnisty International report through Google by accessing the website ‘Murder Inna Dancehall’ Thanks to artist Mista Majah P for having the guts to address homophobia in Jamaican music and trying to make a change. Karm, this is what is happening. You can watch Mista Majah P “Karma” video on YouTube.

    • Mandy says:

      Hi, I don´t wanna put my hand over Buju here. i think he is not guilty. But to your writings….
      Did you ever read the big book of life, called the bible????? NO???? It´s standing: If a man makes love to another man he should be punished by dead!!!! The words Buju is saying comes straight from the bible, Leviticus,20:13.

  4. jen says:

    set buju free now!Jah bless Buju Banton

  5. kaydee says:

    Why is it every time there is a discussion someone has to bring up this gay topic. Listen ppl, no Jamaican artist is gonna sit and have any discussion condoning any gay rights. Why can’t you all realize your lifestyle is disgusting and an abomination before God and man. All these natural disasters happening around us esp in NY the other day are signs from God, He is displease with the way society is welcoming you all, making you all think your behaviour is normal…no, its not normal, its nasty n disgusting. You all need to go back in your closests with you nasty lifestyles and stop trying to push it in people’s faces every chance you get like its a normal thing…unu too damn nasty n disgusting!!!

  6. CHRISTIAN says:

    To KAYDEE: I was just pointing out that in the past, Banton when to court and got away with it. It cannot always happen. I feel sorry for your vision on people who are born different. In a way, i cannot really blame you or people who think like you, because mass of people have been brainwashed by religion. But I’m confident because everyday things are getting better for us. The more I advance in this life, the more I see that our rights are surfacing and being establish and the less I see discrimination. People are starting to wise up about this topic. it’s a long journey, but it gets better. I know that not all will agree, but I see this as the modern Civil Rights movement. And that’s if we disagree. But one thing we definitively need to agree is that violence is not acceptable. last week, three states legalised gay unions and two (?) legalised marijuana. It’s so cool when it’s related to marijuana but some are scandalised when it’s for people who request the right to officially make an union and be recognised as a couple when they are filling their tax form Here is an interesting video I just found: Obama on LGBT Pride Month (2011). We are seeing tangible changes and it’s about time. This is a seed that is beeing planted and it will grow on international level. It may take years… but we will reach it. Recently I’ looked on a gay dating system the profiles in Ghana. I though I would find just a few… There was over 500 profiles and majority of people where even showing their faces. I was so proud to see that a country like Ghana is able to reach that level of comfort, even when it’s still criminalised. Heres the Obama clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCA0cD0ZkMc

  7. Murson says:

    Buju wrote Boom Bye Bye when he was like 16 years old, He was just a kid.
    Eminem has lots of songs saying lots of negative things about gay people and he was in his mid to late 20’s. Maybe Buju should do a song with elton john too and we can move past this song that happend 20 YEARS AGO!

  8. CHRISTIAN says:

    I don’t buy that 20-year old argument. He is been using the riddim in concert and start sting the first verse in concerts in the past 5 or 7 years. He is still profiting from this song. I was in LA this summer and it is still being press on 7-inch singles. It was rank No.18 in Jamaican Mutabaruka (if my memory’s good) one or two years ago and it is STILL the anthem to gay violence in the caribbeen. When you want to MOVE ON with your past, well you act acordingly. And please don’t give me that Eminem excuses. Compare the lyrics, i don’t think nowere in Eminems songs there is ecitement to murder. Arguments rejected.

  9. CHRISTIAN says:

    Just to correct what I’ve wrote: the song wasn’t rank No.18, but 24 ant that was in 2009. The context: Mutabaruka’s Top 100 Jamaican influencial songs list. Info can be found on my website HISTORY & NEWS, October 14, 2009. That says a lot.

    Mista Majah P on what happened at UTech on November 1st (video lower). There is no official ways to prove that a generation that listen to gay bashing music will act accordingly. But if we use common sence, we must agree that there is strong possibilites that violence made towards gays todays might have roots in all those hatered songs being push by Shabba, Buju, Capleton, Sizzla, Elephant Man and the list goes on. A generation that grew up listening to this can really start to believe in it. Several gays are being killed in Jamaica every years. And there was no such things when people were listeing to 70’s Roots Reggae.

  10. […] letter writing campaign comes on the heels of the Free Buju Press Conference that was held early last week on Capitol Hill. Banton’s new defense attorney, Chokwe […]

  11. scott says:

    Buju is in jail for a cocaine deal. I can’t really see how Gay rights have anything to do with that. Now If the government wanted to aggressivly prosecute him for the song but had not legal leg to stand on I can see how entrapment was facilitated.

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