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Stage show turmoil - ‘Bounty Killer’, ‘Vybz Kartel’ run for cover

Dozens injured in stone, bottle-throwing incident

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer staff reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 28, 2011    

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THE throwing of bottles and stones as well as the sound of gunshots yesterday morning forced Jamaican dancehall deejays 'Bounty Killer' and 'Vybz Kartel' to run for cover, while patrons attending the 'Magnum Follow Di Arrow' stage show sought refuge under the stage, behind speaker boxes and other places they thought safe as the popular event ended in chaos.

A pregnant woman was among dozens of screaming patrons injured during the incident but it was not clear what their conditions were up to press time last night.

Bounty, who had exited the stage for just a few seconds when the missiles first started taking aim at the stage, made a brave return, shouting "Mi na run after mi na play dandy shandy" (a game played by children). However, just after the 'announcement' the deejay and members of his Alliance team were seen running for cover.

DJ Sunshine who was seen cowering on the stage was 'saved' when someone used a chair to protect her head, while MC Ragashanti (Dr Kingsley Stewart), who minutes before was urging the crowd to "stay calm" had to beat a hasty retreat as bottles pelted the stage.

It was not clear if the police were the ones firing during the melee.

The show, held at the James Bond Beach in St Mary, was going well until a brief appearance by the controversial Bounty Killer (Rodney Price) at minutes to 5:00 am after MC Ragashanti announced that the Anger Management Band would be making its way centre stage in preparation for "the final chapter of the morning's show". Some patrons were expecting a clash between Bounty Killer and Vybz Kartel, while others just wanted the chance to see the two deejays in action. At the entrance of the VIP gate a verbal clash suddenly turned physical between members of Bounty Killer's Alliance and members of the security forces after team members allegedly tried to force their way backstage. Bounty and a few members of his team were eventually allowed access to the stage, but not before the artiste was shoved with a baton by a security personnel. Another member of the Alliance team was also physically abused by a security personnel.

Despite the fuss, MC Ragashanti encouraged the dancehall artiste to take the stage when about two minutes into his performance he began criticising a newspaper report that spoke of a possible clash between himself and his rival Vybz Kartel, then the missiles started flying.

Deejay Vybz Kartel (Adidja Palmer), who appeared on the stage when the throwing stopped for a few minutes himself had to take cover as the throwing of bottles again started. "Weh mi Gaza fan dem deh!" shouted Kartel as he took the microphone, much to the surprise of many as most people had believed that the show had ended. Approximately 15 seconds later Kartel, too, had to run for safety.

The bottle throwing got worse, and during a stampede, tears rolled down the faces of a few women huddled together and blood and open wounds could be seen on the bodies of some.

Last night, the show's sponsor — Magnum — condemned what it said was the action of a few who "caused the inconvenience of many. The 2011 staging of Magnum Follow Di Arrow started with 'positive vibes', leading to several excellent performances, supported by equally good production. However, the 'positive vibes' were shattered when an unfortunate incident led to the end of what could have been the best Magnum Follow Di Arrow to date."

Magnum said that following discussions with both the promoters and the security forces they could not confirm any reports of injuries requiring medical attention.

Magnum, however, said "positive dancehall" must be supported and we vowed to continue supporting "the best that dancehall has to offer".

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