Tag Archives: Pinellas County Jail

Banton Defense Team Launches Letter Writing Campaign To Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

The legal team for GRAMMY Award-winning reggae star, Buju Banton, has  launched a new letter writing campaign — this time aimed at the Supreme Court – to build further awareness about the highly controversial federal drug case that landed the beloved Jamaican music icon behind bars.

The letter writing campaign comes on the heels of the Free Buju Press Conference that was held early last week on Capitol Hill. Banton’s new defense attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, organized the Washington D.C. event in conjunction with the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee to formally announce the filing of a petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court.

Dr. Carolyn Cooper Speaks @ Free Buju Press Event in D.C.

The panel of special guest speakers included GRAMMY Award-winning reggae artist and producer, Stephen Marley; Dr. Carolyn Cooper, author and lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica; Brother Aula Sumbry, radio host and Chairman of the NAACP Prison Committee in Trenton, New Jersey; attorney and progressive policy advocate, Nkechi Taifa; longtime Banton friend and collaborator, Gramps Morgan; Salim Adafo, Vice-Chairman of the National Black United Front; and Banton co-counsel, Imhotep Alkebu-Lan.

Legal Eagle Chokwe Lumumba

Lumumba also addressed the attendees. “I think he is a political prisoner,” said the veteran legal eagle. “There is a generational gap between the struggle to free political prisoners and the struggles of young people. [Buju is helping] to keep the act of freeing political prisoners a relevant one to all generations that exist right now.”

Banton is currently housed at the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida, where he awaits a decision from trial judge James S. Moody, Jr. who is deliberating on two motions recently filed by his lawyers: 1) Motion for reconsideration of sentence  2) Second motion for new trial (due to possible juror misconduct).

Mr. Lumumba, the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee and the Gargamel Music Family are asking all friends, fans and activists around the world to stand in solidarity with the ongoing movement to Free Buju by writing a letter to the Supreme Court today. All letters should be sent to Lumumba’s office:
 
United States Supreme Court
C/O Attorney Chokwe Lumumba
440 N. Mill St.
Jackson, Mississippi 39202
 
Hon. Supreme Court Justices:
 
I am writing this letter in support of Mark Anthony Myrie (Buju Banton).
 
Mr. Myrie has filed a petition in this court seeking review and reversal of drug, conspiracy, weapons possession and phone facilitation convictions occurring in the U.S.District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.
 
The convictions of Mr. Myrie are outrageous and unjust. Mr. Myrie was the victim of a concerted U.S. government effort to entrap, conducted by a corrupt informant who was paid 3.5 million dollars by the government for his services in various cases over the years.
 
Mark Myrie is a Grammy Award winning reggae artiste from Jamaica. He has never been convicted of a crime prior to the present case. He has helped feed numerous hungry children in his country and otherwise contributed to worthy causes in Jamaica and elsewhere. He is supported by hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions worldwide.
 
I ask this honorable court to review his case and grant Mark Myrie the relief he deserves.
 ——————————————–
 
::SIGN::
::WATCH::
::BUY::

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Banton Back To Pinellas County Facility Awaiting Re-Sentencing

pinellas

BB Bounced Back To PCJ

Reggae icon Buju Banton has been moved from FCI Miami and is now back at Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, FL, where he awaits a re-sentencing hearing with trial Judge James Moody, Jron Tuesday, October 30th.

Fans and friends can write to him at the new address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1519831

CEN-6C2-UN02-04-004

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

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The Caged Bird Sings Of Freedom

The caged bird sings

With a fearful trill

Of things unknown

But longed for still

And his tune is heard

On the distant hill

For the caged bird

Sings of freedom.

Dr. Maya Angelou (from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings)

Freedom! Photo By: Robert Cooper

Greetings in the name of the Most High…

As you can imagine, the Gargamel Music Family’s entire world was shattered by the outcome of Buju’s trial. Two months have passed and the heartache has not eased at all. We lost a long, hard-fought battle but, alas, this legal war wages on. We remain confident in Buju’s innocence and vigilant in our fight for his ultimate freedom. There is nuff work to be done and the time has come for us to pick up the pieces and march forward in the struggle.

Buju’s strength and resolve throughout this painful ordeal has been nothing short of inspiring. He is a true soldier who continues to stand firm in his beliefs and will not be broken. He earnestly thanks his friends for life — the fans worldwide — for your unyielding support and only asks that you remember him in a positive light and continue to play his music in the days to come.

We encourage you to send uplifting letters to Buju at the address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1443397

CEN-4C1-UN01-01-001

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

If you feel like you want to top up B’s commissary, include a money order with all of the above information written on it (Mark’s legal name/docket number, etc…) and place it in the envelope with your letter. The guards who open the mail will make sure it’s added onto his account.

SENTENCING & APPEAL

We recently sat down with Buju’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, who took the time to school us on how the sentencing and appeal processes works so we have a better sense of what to expect.

The trial and sentencing judge, James Moody, Jr. still has yet to rule on either of the post trial motions filed by Markus back in February: 1) motion for judgement of acquittal  2) motion for a new trial. Markus filed a separate third motion for bond pending sentencing and appeal that he is also waiting to hear from the Court on.

Buju’s sentencing is currently scheduled for June 23rd. While Judge Moody can take other things into account, he still must abide by the current mandatory minimum drug sentencing guidelines, which based on the three convictions: 1) Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 or more kilograms of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine  2) knowing and intentionally possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and 3) using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense, bring the mandatory minimum in this case to 15 years.

  • After sentencing, Markus has 14 days to file a notice of appeal. Then he will order the trial transcripts, which will take about 30 days.
  • As soon as Markus gets the transcripts, he has 40 days to file a brief, which will contain his arguments.
  • The government gets 40 days to respond. Markus gets 40 days to reply.
  • Then the Court will decide whether to allow oral argument (where 3 judges listen to the case). Only 10% of all appeal cases are granted this opportunity.
  • After oral argument, the Court usually takes between a month and a year to rule.

Those who wish to donate funds toward the appeal may send a wire transfer to the official Buju Banton Defense Fund set up by his attorney:

Markus & Markus, PLLC
(Defense Fund for Buju Banton)
Citibank, N A
Coral Way Branch
1600 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145
ABA # 266086554
Account # 9118130472

You may also make a donation via Paypal. Just log in and direct monies to FREEBUJU@gmail.com

THE VOICE OF JAMAICA WILL NOT BE SILENCED!
The Gargamel Music Family remains steadfast in our efforts to promote and preserve the musical legacy of Buju Banton. As he reiterated in his Miami New Times cover story in January of this year, “they can lock the flesh but they can never lock the spirit of Rasta.” We intend to keep Buju’s spirit moving and his voice soaring — through music… And we already have several projects in development:

Buju Banton & Friends: Before The Dawn Concert DVD

We are working out the logistics to make the official DVD of the Before The Dawn Concert available for sale later this year. We are aware of the weak bootleg circulating on the streets and will deal with the culprits accordingly. In the meantime, we just ask that the fans hold on and support the real product when it comes out. It will definitely be worth the wait.

New Buju Banton Studio Album

While the General was out on bail and under house arrest he finished up some tracks for an album co-produced with longtime UK brethren, Blacker Dread. The pair previously worked together on the rousing 2010 anthem “Innocent” featured on Buju’s Grammy-winning album Before The Dawn (Gargamel Music). This new album will drop some time in 2012 on Gargamel Music, Inc.

Buju Banton Live Album

Team Gargamel has collected some amazing live material over the past few years and we plan to release the first Buju Banton live album some time in the near future.

Buju Banton Coffee Table Book

For the past few years we’ve been shooting with esteemed celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion (Too Bad and Rasta Got Soul album covers) to produce a photography book that visually captures the excitement and frenetic energy of Buju’s live performances along with some exclusive behind-the-scenes moments on the road with the artist and his band.

Gargamel Music Website

At long last, we are in the process of revamping the Gargamel Music website. www.GARGAMELMUSIC.com will be the hub for all things Buju Banton on the web. We will also be selling authentic Buju Banton merchandise, including the Official Free Buju T-Shirts, which are now available in a Limited Edition Red in addition to the original Black and Green color waves. And keep your eyes peeled for the brand new Buju Banton Logo Tee that will be available at relaunch!

The Gargamel Music Family Thanks You For Your Support!

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Buju Banton & Friends To Perform At Before The Dawn Concert in Miami on January 16, 2011!!!

News of Buju Banton‘s 2010 Grammy nod for his prophetic new album, Before The Dawn, comes on the heels of a federal court ruling by Judge James Moody that allows Banton, who is currently out on bail, to perform at an event in South Florida during Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend. The veteran Reggae artist, who had been incarcerated at Pinellas County Jail for 11 months, has not performed live in over a year.

Produced by Rocker’s Island Entertainment and Gargamel Music, the Before The Dawn Concert featuring Buju Banton & Friends will take place on Sunday, January 16 at Bayfront Park Amphitheater (301 North Biscayne Blvd.) in downtown Miami, Florida. Additional artists will be announced in the coming weeks. Music for the event will be provided by New York’s Hot 97′s  finest, Massive B with Bobby Konders and Jabba. A family affair, doors open at 4:00pm and the show starts at 5:00pm sharp and ends promptly at 10:00pm. Kids under 12 enter FREE with an adult!

Tickets for the history making Before The Dawn Concert featuring Buju Banton & Friends are on sale now at BUJULIVE.com and/or TICKETMASTER.com. For more information or to rent a booth, please call 305.438.9488.

Get your Official Free Buju T-Shirts now by sending an email to freebuju@gmail.com!!!!

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Prophetic New Buju Banton Album Before The Dawn Available For Pre-Sale Now On iTunes & Amazon.com

Gargamel Music, Inc. is pleased to announce that reggae superstar, Buju Banton’s prophetic new album, Before The Dawn will drop in North America (and Japan) on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. The release date for the UK and France has been set for Monday, October 4, however, it will be available in the rest of Europe a few days earlier on Friday, October 1. Fans around the world may pre-order the album now on both iTunes and Amazon.com.

Recorded at Banton’s own Gargamel Music studio in Kingston, Jamaica, Before The Dawn literally pierces the soul with traditional roots on the track “Do Good,”classic rock on the tune “No Smoking At All,” and heartfelt reggae on the especially potent “Battered & Bruised.” The album’s unofficial anthem, “Innocent”strikes a highly personal chord that will resonate deeply with longtime fans.

Physical copies of the album contain a special note written from inside the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida, where Buju Banton has been patiently awaiting trial for the past nine months. He will finally have his day in court when the trial, which has been riddled with delays, kicks off on Monday, September 20, in Tampa, Florida.

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Buju Banton Advocates Launch A Letter Writing Campaign To U.S. Attorney General

In a consolidated effort to bring even more attention to the flimsy Federal charges being wielded against the international reggae music icon, Buju Banton‘s supporters have kicked off an official letter writing campaign to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. The goal is to ensure the government is keenly aware that the public is monitoring this case closely. Below is a copy of the sample letter being circulated:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I am writing to ask for your intervention with respect to a grave injustice against Grammy-nominated reggae music icon Buju Banton (legal name Mark Anthony Myrie). The incarceration of this legendary musician without bail is unconscionable.  He is currently incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida while he awaits trial on drug conspiracy charges in the Middle District of Florida for which he has pleaded not guilty. The charges are a result of information provided by a professional informant who relentlessly pursued Mr. Myrie for six months to participate in a drug deal.

In our great system of justice the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, persons accused of crime are entitled to bail. Mr. Myrie meets all of the requirements for bail, yet it has not been granted. In addition, his trial has been postponed three times despite his attorney’s objections.

The professional informant in Mr. Myrie’s case is a convicted drug trafficker from Colombia. This convicted felon has been granted legal immigration status and to date has earned over three million American dollars (tax-free) for serving as an informant to various U.S. government agencies. Taxpayer dollars certainly could be spent more effectively than on trying to entrap individuals who have no previous criminal record and have never been involved with drugs in any manner.  Is the Federal government presently in the business of creating criminals?

Mr. Myrie, a.k.a. Buju Banton, produces uplifting, positive music comparable to the music of Bob Marley.  His work inspires people worldwide. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award, the highest achievement in his field, four times since 1999.  He is one of the leading voices of his generation, shedding light on such issues as the unrelenting violence and abject poverty pervasive in the Third World.

Banton has also represented his country in performances at the Summer Olympics in Greece in 2004 and at the Cricket World Cup Opening in 2007.  Buju commemorated Jamaica’s support for President Obama by appearing in rock legend Dave Stewart’s music video for “American Prayer,” a moving tribute to the President.  Additionally, Buju is a family man, an employer and a generous philanthropist.

Given Buju Banton’s exemplary reputation, his humanitarian efforts and his cultural contributions to society, he should not be languishing in jail at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.  I urge you to do whatever possible to end this injustice.

Organizers of the Buju Banton Letter Writing Campaign are encouraging friends, fans and supporters worldwide to print out this letter — or write a version of their own, sign and mail it directly to Attorney General Holder at the following address:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001


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Banton Moved Back To General Population–Team Gargamel Preps To Fight For His Life

Buju Prepares For The Fight Of His Life

The Gargamel Music Family is pleased to confirm that music icon, Buju Banton, has indeed been moved back to general population at the Pinellas County Jail after spending over 30 days in maximum security for the seemingly minor infraction of giving his food away to a fellow inmate.

The move has lifted Buju’s spirits tremendously as he is able to move around a bit more freely, plus he has access to hot water and other simple provisions that were not readily available in South Division aka “max.”

Buju wants his fans to know that all of the guards on his floor are treating him with the utmost respect and he also says he is receiving so much mail from around the world that the jail is even considering giving him his own mail bag! Buju is thankful for all the uplifting correspondence and promises to write back to his supporters as much as he can.

Well wishers can continue to hail up the boss at the new updated address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1387202

*CEN-4C3-UN03-04-002

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

Please note *new housing info, which must be included in address to ensure delivery.

In the meantime, Buju remains prayerful and optimistic as Team Gargamel, led by esteemed criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, prepare to fight for his liberty and his life. The trial date is presently still set for Monday, June 21st at the Sam M. Gibbons Federal US District Courthouse in Tampa, Florida.

The high-profile, highly controversial case will be tried by Assistant US Attorney, James C. Preston, Jr. and presided over by The Honorable Judge James S. Moody, Jr.

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Why Was Buju Banton Thrown Into Maximum Security For Giving Food To Fellow Inmate!?!?

pinellasEarly Monday morning, the legal team representing Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, was forced to file an emergency motion with the US District Court (Middle District) in Tampa, Florida on behalf of their client. Last Thursday, Banton (aka Mark Myrie), who has been incarcerated at Pinellas County Jail (PCJ) in nearby Clearwater since early January, was placed in maximum security for 30 days for giving away his food to a fellow inmate. After several futile attempts to negotiate directly with the jail (and the prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney, James Preston) to have Buju moved back to general population, Team Banton felt compelled to file the Emergency Motion for Bond or for Alternative Relief.

Lead defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, believes this excessive punishment is simply the latest in a long line of subtle yet exacting harassment endured by the Reggae star since his transfer to PCJ. Immediately upon his arrival at the jail, Banton, a devout Rasta who follows a strict ital diet, filled out the required paperwork to apply for vegetarian meals, but all of his requests were ignored. In addition to his visible weight loss, Banton has been inexplicably moved from floor to floor of the jail — 5 times at last count. And his cell is customarily tossed by guards (read: searched at random), among other things.

According to reports from former inmates who were interviewed for a PCJ resource site about (but unaffiliated with) the jail, South Division or “max,” is for non-sentenced (usually dangerous) felons. However, Central Division, the minimum security area where Banton was previously housed, at least has a “microwave and hot water” and is “very clean and neat compared to max.”

And here’s a Typical Meal Schedule & Sample Menu at Pinellas County Jail:

MEALS
Breakfast – 3:00am
Lunch – 10:00am
Dinner – 4:00pm

MENU
Shank & Cereal
Meat & Gravy
Macaroni & Ham Bits

COMMISSARY
Inmates may order from the commissary twice a week.

Below is an excerpt of the motion filed by Mr. Markus:

EMERGENCY MOTION FOR BOND OR FOR ALTERNATIVE RELIEF

Because Mr. Myrie had the audacity to share his food with a hungry inmate, he was sent out of general population and into the maximum security wing of the prison. When Mr. Myrie told the officer that he did not believe that he was doing anything wrong, he was told that he could contest her finding, but if he lost, he would be sent to the hole. Knowing how that would turn out, Mr. Myrie waived his opportunity to contest the hearing and was sent to maximum security for the next 30 days — the most critical 30 days of Mr. Myrie’s life as he prepares for trial.

Since being incarcerated in December 2009, Mr. Myrie has lost about 40 pounds and has not been provided with a diet in accordance with his religious views. Although he has been able to make appropriate meals in the kitchen with food he purchased from the commissary, he does not have the ability in his new maximum security wing. In addition, the living areas and kitchen are unsanitary, and the showers do not work. Because he is being treated inhumanely, we have no choice but to file this motion for bond.

The decision to then place Mr. Myrie in a maximum security wing weeks before his upcoming trial suggest that something else is going on. Counsel for Mr. Myrie was advised that he would remain in maximum security for at least 30 days, and that there was “nothing we can do about it.” In sum, Mr. Myrie is now in a maximum security wing for caring enough to offer food to another inmate who was hungry, and genuinely believing there was nothing wrong in doing so.

Transferring Mr. Myrie to maximum security is not only affecting him (Mr. Myrie’s mental and physical health has been rapidly deteriorating) but it is affecting undersigned’s counsel’s ability to prepare for trial. For example, this week when counsel attempted to visit Mr. Myrie, counsel was required to wait over two hours until he could see Mr. Myrie.

Many of the people that we spoke to at the facility tried to help us and agreed that this “violation” was extremely minor. We were told, however, that once the decision was made, it was not going to be overturned.

Team Banton was granted the emergency hearing and will appear in Tampa Federal Court on Friday, March 26th at 10am before Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli.

In the meantime… Bujumania!

Banton Fights The Power! Photo: Jonathan Mannion

FREE BUJU! RADIO/TV/WEB CAMPAIGN
Listeners request and selectors continue to play as much Buju Banton music as possible, especially the uplifting new single “Optimistic Soul,” which officially dropped online, March 23rd. Multimedia programmers should add the accompanying music video into rotation on local, national and international TV outlets and web sites. Plan a special Buju Banton Tribute program for the weekend of April 16th-18th (just before the trial start date of Monday, April 19th).

Swap your Facebook/Twitter profile pic to the official Free Buju! logo or your favorite photo of Buju Banton. Bombard the web with inspirational Buju Banton lyrics, quotes, interviews, videos and other memorabilia. Stay optimistic.

WRITE TO THE GENERAL
Continue writing letters of encouragement to Buju Banton:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1387202

*SD-5F-POD03-01-002

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

Please note *new housing info, which must be included in address to ensure delivery.

FAST & PRAY
The Gargamel Music Family will begin our collective fast on April 1st. Join us in solidarity!


~ GET DOWN WITH THE MOVEMENT ~
Official Free Buju! T-Shirts
We Support Buju Banton
Tampa Bay Supports Buju Banton
Buju Banton ♫It’s Not An Easy Road♫ Supporting Him In His Struggles
We Demand A Fair Trial For Buju Banton
Buju Banton On Facebook
Buju Banton On MySpace
Buju Banton On YouTube

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