PHOTO: Jamaica Observer
Today is Day Two of the federal drug conspiracy retrial of anti-gay "murder music" and reggae star Buju Banton, seen walking to federal court yesterday morning in Tampa, Florida. Banton's trial started only one day after winning the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album
On Monday, the court heard audio recordings of the conversations between Buju Banton and a federal informant arranging a cocaine deal. The reggae superstar and says he is "desperate" and blames his financial problems on gay activists, reports Go-Jamaica.com.
In audio recordings played in court a short while ago, Banton is heard thanking Colombian drug baron turned United States informant Alexander Johnson for an opportunity to make some money. "You have given me the opportunity to make myself again," Buju said to Johnson.
He complained to the informant the he did not make any money on his last tour and that gay-rights organisaton Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation(GLAAD) "are trying to run me under." The conversation took place while Johnson and Buju were in a vehicle driving to a police undercover warehouse where cocaine was hidden.
Banton's first trial ended in September 2010 in a hung jury.
The 37-year-old singer, born Mark Myrie, was arrested in December 2009 following a sting operation. The Jamaican national is charged with conspiring to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine from undercover federal agents. The singer faces four drug-trafficking and weapons charges and up to 20 years in prison. Despite video and audio surveillance, Banton maintains that he was "set up."
In recent years, gay activists in North America and Europe have called attention to Banton's lyrics and so-called "murder music" which incite violence and call for attacking, torturing and killing gays. Banton's recent North American and European tour dates have met with protests, demonstrations and cancellations. In October 2009, San Francisco-based LGBT activists met with Banton and afterwards the reggae singer's anti-gay rhetoric appeared even more hardened: "This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs, 'There is no end to the war between me and faggot'."
Jamaican news coverage of Buju Banton's arrest has attempted to link his legal problems to his anti-gay views. That seems to be a recurring theme.
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