After deliberating for just under two hours, the 11 member jury returned its verdict. The three men and eight women found Adijah Palmer, and three of his four co-accused, guilty of the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. The verdict has put to rest a legal drama that began in 2011, one which fascinated and mystified the nation, but there were more sinister undercurrents at play here. As much as my own conscience tells me justice has been done, and as much as I would rather not see any selfless heroism in a convicted murderer; I am unable to shake the feeling that in the end Vybz Kartel was able to serve as a living testament, a sacrificial lamb of sorts, for many of the realities dancehall music has explored over the years. Kartel’s arrest, trial and conviction put the very state on trial, and on nearly all counts, Jamaica was found guilty.
I woke to news late this afternoon that Mark “Buju Banton” Myrie had been found guilty by the Tampa, Florida jury. I braced myself for what would no doubt be a warranted out pouring of emotion from his loyal fans. However, what greeted me was nothing short of ignorance and stupidity as the said fans searched desperately for justification of the verdict.
The blame was firstly attributed to his skin colour. “A caw him black!”. When it became clear that wouldn’t stick, there were calls of “A caw him a rasta!”. This too would prove insufficient and so gears were swiftly changed, “A thru him a Jamaican!”. And when nothing would hold, there came a last desperate and under handed attempt; “A di battybwoy dem set it up!”
So crude and unspeakably plain. Unfortunate isn’t it? Sigh.
I searched desperately for some voice of reason amongst his fans and in the midst of the chaos. This was not to be. I sat mortified as elaborate conspiracy theories were given life to justify, or rather, to explain the guilty verdict. And not once, no not once, did anyone stop to think… MAYBE HE’S JUST GUILTY. I know this sounds callous, and cruel even, but there must come a time when reason trumps emotional considerations. There must come a time when common sense defeats ignorance. Yes, today must be that time, that day.
In the face of overwhelming evidence to support his guilt, people still expected a jury of 12 reasonably intelligent men and women to return a not guilty verdict on all counts. This expectation bordered on insanity. The phone calls? The supposed video of Buju tasting cocaine? As in…. which jury wouldn’t be persuaded by all that? If you ask me, he’s lucky he was only found guilty on only 3 counts. I understand the emotional outpouring and I understand the concern, but this is how the justice system works and if 12 reasonably intelligent people could unanimously agree, then I am willing to accept the verdict. No other justification or explanation rather than the fact that the evidence presented was sufficient to convince those 12 people. Case closed. Argument done.
I hope, for the sake of his fans, that the judge is lenient and shows mercy. That is perhaps a reasonable thing to form prayer circles for.. (I say this with grave reservations)…but it will comfort those who mourn. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of his, but I did appreciate some of his lyrics. Especially ‘Destiny’ and ‘The Full’ (forgive me if this isn’t the name of the song. Perhaps a loyal fan can correct me.) May “Jah” guide you Buju, where ever you are. A nation prays with and for you.
I could go on and on, but it seems the full has finally been told.