Jury deliberates fate of homophobic reggae artist Buju Banton, who faces life in prison

The Associated Press is reporting that closing arguments have been given in the case of reggae singer Buju Banton’s drug case.

The 37-year-old Banton is accused of conspiring with two other men in setting up a drug deal in December of 2009. His album “Before the Dawn” won a Grammy for best reggae album this week, and he remains wildly popular in his native Jamaica.

A jury deadlocked in his first trial last year. If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to life in prison.

Every seat in the federal courtroom in Tampa was filled as the lawyers gave their closing arguments. Many of the seats were taken by Banton’s friends and fans, including well-known reggae artists Gramps Morgan and Wayne Wonder. During the lunch break, about a dozen supporters held hands and prayed for Banton in the court hallway.

“I’m fighting for my freedom,” said Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie. “I’m fighting for my life.”

Banton is notorious for his strongly homophobic songs calling for the torture and murder of gay men — or “batty boys” as they are known in his native Jamaica. He came to Dallas in 2009 on tour to face a protest at his concert at the Deep Ellum reggae venue The Palm Beach Club.

—  Rich Lopez

Homophobic musician Buju Banton met with San Francisco LGBT leaders this week

Gay community leaders in San Fran meet with Buju Banton...and are happy about it?
Gay community leaders in SF meet with Buju Banton…and smile about it?

Over on the Petrelis Files blog, Michael Petrelis posted about Buju Banton’s meeting this week with leaders in the San Francisco gay community, including himself. Petrelis mentions this was Banton’s first meeting with the gay community. Buju Banton is the reggae musician infamous for his song “Boom Bye Bye” that includes lyrics about killing gay men as well as perpetual hate speech toward LGBT people.

The post is a little unusual. Petrelis gives Banton credit for understanding the issue yet also, says ” there certainly was little movement on his part,” a point people took up in the lengthy comments section. Not only that, they took pictures with Banton and smiled! They smiled for a picture next to a man who has declared “there is no end to the war with me and faggots.”

Now, Dallas is in his sights. Buju Banton comes to Dallas Tuesday Oct. 20 to perform at the Palm Beach Club in Deep Ellum. There were efforts to have the show canceled by Resource Center Dallas and Equality March Texas but, as of now, it is still set to go. I’ve been informed they will now be protesting the show. You can read more about that in tomorrow’s issue.

—  Rich Lopez