bujubanton09282010

Buju Banton Convicted, Attorneys Plan Appeal

Just a week after celebrating his Grammy win for Best Reggae Album, Buju Banton was convicted today by a 12-person jury in a Federal Court in Tampa, Florida. After deliberating for eleven hours, the jurors found Buju—born Mark Myrie—guilty of conspiracy to possess five or more kilos of cocaine, of using a telephone to facilitate drug-trafficking, and of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug dealing offense.

Buju was found not guilty of possession with intent to distribute cocaine—and in fact, he never did possess the drugs in question. The artist has maintained his innocence from day one, and his defense attorneys argued that he was targeted and entrapped by federal agents. Many reggae artists have described the case as part of an ongoing war against the music. In a post-Grammy statement, Buju Banton's management called the charges against the artist "outlandish."

Showing no emotion after the verdict was read, Buju embraced his lead defense attorney David Markus, then blew kisses to his supporters, many of whom left the courtroom in tears. This was Buju's second trial on drug-related charges stemming from his arrest in December 2009. The first time around, jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

"We are all extremely disappointed and emotional," Markus told the AP. "The only person who seems to be okay is Buju. He told us he was happy that he fought, knowing he was innocent." Markus also shared a statement from his client with Jamaica Observer reporter Paul Henry, who has been covering the case since last year: "Our life and our destiny are sometimes pre-destined," Buju said. "No matter where this journey takes me, remember I fought the good fight."

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled, but the 37-year-old reggae star could face 15 years or more in federal prison. Markus plans to appeal the conviction, which was based solely upon phone calls and video footage recorded by a paid DEA informant named Alexander Johnson. A convicted Colombian drug dealer, Johnson was arrested bringing hundreds kilos of cocaine into the U.S. in 1994. But instead of going to prison he went to work for the DEA, using hidden cameras and tape recorders to build cases for the Feds, and earning a handsome living for his work.

Johnson testified that he met the artist in June 2009 when they just happened to be seated next to each other on a first-class flight from Spain to the U.S following Buju Banton's summer tour. The confidential informant pursued the reggae star for months, and although Buju avoided his calls, Johnson did record Buju making various unsubstantiated claims on tape. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston argued that Buju Banton portrayed himself as a broker of drug deals in several conversations with the confidential informant, who was paid $50,000 for building a case against the reggae superstar. Markus said his client was a "big talker" but hardly a drug dealer.

The informant eventually lured Buju to a Sarasota warehouse—allegedly to look at a boat. But when Buju and two friends arrived, undercover agents showed him and two associates bricks of cocaine. The artist was caught on video tasting the cocaine—an act Buju's attorney called "the worst mistake of his life"—but he was not present when two other men went back to the warehouse with money to buy drugs and were taken into custody and subsequently pleaded guilty. Buju was arrested the following day at his Florida home. Prosecutors presented no evidence suggesting that Buju put any money into the drug deal, or stood to benefit from it in any way.

"This was complete entrapment," said one Buju supporter, who attended all four days of his second trial, and noted that there were three African-American women but no Black males among the jurors. "I can't believe those jurors were in the same courtroom as I was."

Buju Banton "Not An Easy Road" from his classic 1995 album Til Shiloh:

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Bryshere Gray attends the 2018 Fox Network Upfront at Wollman Rink, Central Park on May 14, 2018 in New York City.
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'Empire' Actor Bryshere Y. Gray Arrested For Traffic Offense

Bryshere Y. Gray, best known for his role on Empire, was arrested in Chicago.

According to TMZ, the 25-year-old was pulled over because his temporary license plate did not match the 2014 Rolls Royce that he was driving. Karie James, Chicago Police spokeswoman confirmed the arrest with The Washington Post.

The arrest happened Thursday (June 13) but caught media attention on Monday (June 17). The actor was arrested on a misdemeanor registration charge, ticketed for driving an uninsured vehicle and failure to carry a driver's license.

He is currently not in police custody.

Gray is best known for his role in Empire as Hakeem Lyon, who lacks discipline and guidance as he tries to reach for hip-hop superstar fame, under his father Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and his mother Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson).  He also starred as Michael Bivins, in the award-winning BET mini-series, The New Edition Story.

He was nominated for Best Actor at the 2018 BET awards.

Gray has been in the entertainment industry since 2013 performing at music festivals including Jay-Z's Made in America and The Roots' Picnic Festival. He also was an opening rap act for rappers 2 Chainz and Fabolous.

The series finale of Empire will premiere this fall. Entertainment Tonight reports, that the sixth season will return to its regular show time on Tuesdays 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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T.I. performs during VH1's Annual "Dear Mama: A Love Letter To Mom" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on May 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
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T.I. Partners With Atlanta Church To End Mass Incarceration

T.I. is already set to star in a movie that covers the Flint, Michigan water crisis, but now the rapper is partnering with Ebenezer Baptist Church to address the national concern for mass incarceration.

According to The Washington Post, the conference starts June 17 to June 19th at the historic church in Atlanta, home of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

T.I. will contribute in efforts to bailing out those in jail of poor and working-class citizens. Reverend Raphael Warnock stated the goals of the conference include helping communities to fight the rise of prison industrial complex in the U.S. systems that unfairly imprison of color.

Auburn Seminary of New York, The Temple of Atlanta, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, among other interfaith partners will also be in attendance during the conference that is nationally titled, "The Multifaith Movement To End Mass Incarceration". The initiative is set to leverage the spiritual power, people power, and other resources in faith communities toward ongoing efforts on ending mass incarceration, as said by Auburn Seminary.

The initiative has two stages, the momentum phase that goes through June 2019 and the implementation phase that begins June 2019 and ends May 30, 2023.

Momentum will establish the groundwork for implementation as well as identify additional partners at the end of the three-day conference. Other agenda items during stage one include adopting policies and practices of alternatives to incarceration from the municipal, state and national operations.

Whereas, the implementation phase will provide training and resource sharing among faith-based leaders within their communities that will show a visible resistance to the prison system.

The Central Park Five, also known as the Exonerated Five will also be apart of the summit. Speaking to The Root, Yusef Salaam, explained just how the important the conference is to prison reform.

“This conference is very important in ending mass incarceration and the systemic issues around black and brown people,” Salaam said to The Root. “Since the film, When They See Us, has come out, a lot is being done to expose the trauma of being black in America; of being stigmatized in America, and I want to use my platform to expose this ugly reality, especially as it pertains to young people, so that there will never again be a Central Park Five, there will never again be a Kalief Browder, and we can finally change this system for good.”

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CNN Sparks Backlash For Article On White Woman Named LaKeisha

Over the weekend, CNN ignited a debate after they highlighted the story of a woman from a small town in western Ohio with an “ethnic-sounding” name.

LaKeisha Francis is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed bartender who did not know that her name was “stereotypically black,” as her parents believed it was just a beautiful name that they wanted their daughter to have. However, as she grew older, she realized that her “ethnic-sounding name” was making life difficult.

“I was joking with my co-worker one day and said, 'I'm just going to tell them my name is Emily so I can avoid all of this,''' Francis says of the comments she receives in response to her name, which range from snickering to disbelief from others due to her appearance.

“So if black-sounding names are looked at with such suspicion, why do some black people persist in using them?” one of the questions raised in the article read. “And where did the practice start in the first place?”

Later in the article, CNN reveals that LaKeisha is married with two kids who bear non-traditional names as well, and that she has “learned to live with being black for a minute.”

“A name doesn't make a non-Black person 'Black for a minute,' that's a trash take,” wrote one Twitter user in response to the article. Another wrote “I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha.”

Where do you stand on the topic? Let us know in the comments, and check out a few opinions below.

Read it twice just to make sure I didn't miss anything the first time. And sure enough it was worse the second time around. A name doesn't make a non-Black person "Black for a minute," that's a trash take. S/n: Jamal while a somewhat common name in the Black community is Arabic. pic.twitter.com/O6HXYeM66M

— IAmDamion🎤 (@themorganrpt) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

She can change her name. But we can’t change the color of our skin or the hate they have for us.

— Sh (@shersweety) June 16, 2019

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