Nov 29, 2011

Buju Banton Heads to Relatively Safer Miami Prison After Stay in Rough Texas Jailhouse

Buju Banton has been on the move during the first few months of his ten-year sentence on federal drug charges. The iconic dancehall star went from Florida to Oklahoma to Texas, back to Oklahoma, and he'll soon be en route to the Federal Correctional Institution Miami, according to David Oscar Markus, Banton's attorney.

Plans to place Banton in a Mississippi prison fell through when authorities discovered that a codefendant in the case had already been assigned to the facility. Authorities then stowed Banton in a Federal Transfer Center in lovely Oklahoma City before moving him to a correctional institution in the dreadful-
sounding city of Groesbeck, Texas.

"He was at one of the worst places you can imagine -- a county facility that had been converted to house federal inmates," Markus said. "The place was used for short-stay Mexican nationals who were going to be deported. It was filled with Mexican gangs. Buju was one of very few black men in there. It was really violent."

A Tampa jury found Banton guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense, and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offense in February 2011, days after he won a Grammy for best reggae album.

Federal Judge James S. Moody Jr. later tossed the gun charge, given the fact that Banton had never met or spoken with James Mack, a codefendant from Georgia who brought the gun to the drug deal, which turned out to be a sting operation orchestrated by a government informant. Banton was hundreds of miles away, resting in his Tamarac duplex, when the bust occurred.

Both Judge Moody and the Jamaican consulate urged the Federal Bureau of Prisons to move Banton from the Texas facility.

"We're very appreciative that Judge Moody stood by his initial recommendation that Buju should be in Miami," Markus said. "And he made a point to comment that Buju is a peaceful person and shouldn't be housed in a violent facility."

Markus said he plans to file an appellate brief with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta later next month.


Nov 25, 2011

Buju Banton, promoters endorse upcoming benefit concert

On December 3, 2011, patrons are expected gather around a Tampa, Florida stage seeking to hear lyrics promoting messages of peace, love and harmony from their favorite Reggae superstars. However, while performers will offer various selections of a positive nature, they’ll collectively try to honor an embattled singjay who nurtured his music to provide upliftment for fans worldwide.

Next week Saturday, the Buju Banton benefit concert will take place at the Supa D Tropical Bar & Grill in Tampa, Florida; starting at 1pm. Buju, currently serving a ten year sentence on drug related charges, becomes the subject of an event dedicated towards providing financial support ahead of an appeal on his three convictions stemming from a December 2009 incident. The lineup card for the benefit concert includes internationally renowned Reggae artistes, Delly Ranx, Gramps Morgan, Nadine Sutherland, Glen Washington and Norris Man amongst others whilst featuring a yet-to-be named special guest artiste. Also, persons planning to attend the show will be asked to make a US$20 donation for the cause as organizers hope to make at least US$50,000 from the concert for Buju’s legal defense.

The event’s main organizer, Taranee Jiles, is a long-time friend of Buju Banton; desiring a concept to help the artiste’s cause whilst languishing in a Texas federal prison. Out of friendship and the hope Buju walks free sooner rather than later, Jiles formulated the idea of the benefit concert; an idea fans and supporters of the Grammy-winning singjay quickly bought into.

“Mark is my friend and nobody was doing anything to help him, everybody was just talking, but nobody was acting,” Jiles intimated.

“With Buju's blessings, I decided to do a benefits concert for him. Ran the idea also by his fellow artists and some other supporters, who all thought this was a good idea.”

Buju Banton himself, through his legal team, issued a statement regarding the concert; urging his fans to turn out for the event.

“I, Mark Myrie – aka Buju Banton, support and deem the concert being organized by Taranee Jiles to be a legitimate undertaking in order to raise funds for my legal defense and pending appeal. Your kind support will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance,” the statement read.

After meeting with the owner of the Supa D Tropical Bar & Grill, Dwight Blake, the idea began to play out; drawing in several Reggae acts along the way.

According to Jiles, the concert not only raises awareness that Buju needs supports in his toughest hour but raises his already iconic stature to new heights given what his music provided for fans worldwide.

“We are our brother's keeper! Buju's music is uplifting and has touched people's hearts in Jamaica as well as the rest of the world; proof of that is his recent Grammy win. Buju's physical presence is surely missed,” Jiles insisted.

She continued, “His fellow artists come together in unity to aid this cause. It is time for the people to give back and uplift him now. It will give him the opportunity to defend himself. The concert will help uplift him and assure him, ‘You are not alone; we got your back.’  It proves to the world ‘Solidarity.’”

Meanwhile, Blake, fellow organizer of the event, intimated that it was natural for him to support the cause given that he’s been a fan of Buju Banton for several years; finding his situation rather unfortunate. Confident that a positive turn out would occur for the benefit concert at his venue, Blake believes that not only will it unify Buju’s legions of fans, the event can also raise the profile of Reggae music.

“Reggae is a genre that every walk of life recognizes and love, it doesn’t matter where you come from. Many people of different ethnicity, race and culture enjoys reggae and it’s something that can continue to be introduced to those who never heard it or take the time to listen to. Encouragement is the key and promoting the event encourages others to come out and support the cause,” Blake said.

Jiles echoes Blake’s sentiment; explaining that Reggae music has done so much for society that they would be remised if they didn’t honor one of its patriarchs.

“It (Reggae) has a long history and originated from Slavery days with very powerful and meaningful lyrics and as a form of communication to help fight oppression. It helped uplift Mankind of all walks of life to overcome/to push forward and to stay strong! This concert will help the Reggae Industry in General by keeping the fyah blazing,” Jiles said.

Furthermore, Jiles implied that despite Buju’s current predicament, it will strengthen the established singjay as well as the Reggae genre going forward.

“You might be able to clip the branches, but you cannot remove the Root. Same as you can imprison the physical body, but not imprison the spirit. Reggae Music will not be suppressed, but is here to stay!”

Source: Buju Banton, promoters endorse upcoming benefit concert - National Jamaican Pop Culture |