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Buju pays tribute to late attorney

BY KARYL WALKER Editor - Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 09, 2014    

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INCARCERATED Reggae icon Buju Banton has issued a heart-rending tribute to his former lead attorney and late Mayor

of Jackson, Mississippi, Kwame Lumumba, who died under mysterious circumstances last week.

Writing from a federal prison in Miami, Florida, Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, blasted the system which he claimed entrapped and imprisoned him for his beliefs. Here is the full text of Banton's letter.

Mark Anthony Myrie (86700004) ( Buju Banton) To the family and friends of the late  Chokwe Lumumba: My heart goes out to you all. I share in your grief immensely.

Having been one of the many lives Atty Lumumba has touched, it's with a deep sense of privation that I mourn the passing of my friend and another great black freedom fighter. Atty Chokwe Lumumba, a warrior just like the great leader Patrice Lumumba who fought for the liberation of the Congo in Africa.

Atty Lumumba fought for many who could not stand up against a profaned system that is filled with injustice. A well-disciplined and principled man.

We first met while I was going through the litigation process stemming from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal's decision to reinstate a gun charge. A charge that was previously dismissed by the district court judge.

This tall, dignified black man walked into the visiting room at the FCI Miami, introduced himself and got right down to business. Atty Lumumba had already done his homework concerning my case and clearly saw that something was amiss. He never tried to sugar-coat his thoughts.

Atty Lumumba believed it was imperative and made it very clear that I should do the same.

Throughout those protracted months I spent at the Pinellas County Jail in Tampa, Florida, Atty Lumumba called at least twice weekly to discuss my case and ascertain all was well with me.

He travelled all the way from Mississippi to Florida for attorney client visits. All these actions of genuine interest in my situation gave me confidence in Atty Lumumba. We developed mutual respect for each other.

His appraisal of my chances as it regards justice were always realistic, hence his proactive approach as opposed to being reactive.

This brought about a favourable outcome, with the gun charge being dismissed.

At the end of the evidentiary hearings in 2013, Atty Lumumba looked me in the eyes and said: "What did you do to these people. This is not justice at all. From the gate, you have been screwed".

Atty Lumumba also advised me that having been elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, he was unable to continue his career as a defence attorney.

However, he went on to recommend a few attorneys whom he believed would effectively assist me. Atty Lumumba also reached out to my current attorney, Professor Charles Ogletree.

In parting, Atty Lumumba again said: "Mark, it's going to be an uphill struggle. I saw what they did to you and, unfortunately, you didn't see it coming. Once they have you, it's hell to break free from their chains son. I wish you all the best. You can call me anytime for anything at all. However, I can render assistance, trust me I will".

We spoke several times after he was no longer my official representative, even through third parties, even as recent as two days before his passing. So I was not only shocked but also in a state of denial.

Atty Lumumba was vigorous and energetic. Even when he spoke in a subtle manner. How could this happen without warning? This is really sad. I just have to pay my respects in whatever way I can.

Thank you for the time you dedicated to my cause. It will be with me forever and the countless others whom you have touched with your passion for justice.

I know you are in a much better place. If what they say is true, then you are still fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Farewell, my friend. You shall be greatly missed. Friends for life and even after.

Mark Myrie aka Buju Banton

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