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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
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Posts for June, 2011

Jamaican “Murder Music” Star Gets Ten Year Sentence

Jim Burroway

June 23rd, 2011

Buju Banton, at the time of his arrest.

Jamaican dance-hall and “murder music” star Buju Banton was sentenced to ten years in prison today for his role in a large cocaine trafficking deal in 2009. The sentence is the lowest that is legally allowed for the charge against him. According to Banton’s attorney, David Markus, Banton could be out in six years due to time already served and credits for good behavior.

Banton was convicted in February of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. An earlier trial last year ended in a hung jury.

Banton, who won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for his latest release “Before the Dawn” in February, is immensely popular in Jamaica. His 1992  single, “Boom Bye Bye” calls for gay people to be shot in the head with automatic weapons, have acid poured on them, and burned “like an old tire wheel.” British LGBT Activist Peter Tatchel called the song “probably the most murderous incitement recorded by any singer anywhere in the world.” In 2007 Banton was among a number of reggae artists who signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, promising to refrain from performing homophobic songs or making homophobic statements. He later deniedsigning the pact, and he has performed “Boom Bye Bye” since renouncing the agreement. His 2009 U.S. tour was marked with protests and concert cancellations. During that tour, Banton asserted that there would be “no end to the war between me and gays.”

Murder Music Star Found Guilty of Drug and Weapon Charges

Jim Burroway

February 22nd, 2011

Buju Banton, at the time of his arrest.

Jamaican Dance Hall performer Buju Banton was found guilty in Federal Court today of conspiring to set up a cocaine deal in 2009. The performer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was arrested last year in Miami following a sting by federal FBI agents. According to the Associated Press:

Banton was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. He was acquitted of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. Much of the case hinged on meetings and phone calls that were video and audiotaped by the confidential informant, who was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration — and who made $50,000 in commission after the bust.

This is Banton’s second trail on these charges. A jury deadlocked in the first trial earlier last year. Banton, who won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for his latest release”Before the Dawn” last weekend, is imensely popular in Jamaica. The Jamaica Observer describes fans as “reeling”, and they’ve been Tweeting their objections:

Meanwhile fans of Reggae mourned the loss one of its biggest stars, the self-titled ‘Voice of Jamaica’.

“Buju a di heart a Reggae enu..Buju is not guilty..tell dem gu find di real criminal deem,” said fellow artiste ‘DiStar’.

For many, however, the verdict was the final act in a conspiracy against the artiste. “He’s been framed well good am still not convince he’s guilty,” said Abigale Bogle.

Banton faces the possibility of life in prison.

Buju Banton’s 1992  single, “Boom Bye Bye” calls for gay people to be shot in the head with automatic weapons, have acid poured on them, and burned “like an old tire wheel.” British LGBT Activist Peter Tatchel called the song “probably the most murderous incitement recorded by any singer anywhere in the world.” In 2007 Banton was among a number of reggae artists who signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, promising to refrain from performing homophobic songs or making homophobic statements. He later denied signing the pact, and he has performed “Boom Bye Bye” since renouncing the agreement.

In 2009, Banton’s U.S. tour was marked with several concert cancellations due to protests from members of local and national LGBT groups. During the tour, Banton told a Jamaican radio station, “This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs ‘there is no end to the war between me and faggot’ and it’s clear.”

Murder Music Performer Buju Banton Faces Drug Charges In Miami

Jim Burroway

December 12th, 2009

From the Miami Herald:

Buju BantonBuju Banton, the Jamaican reggae star whose anti-gay lyrics have drawn international criticism, is in a federal lockup in Miami, facing drug conspiracy charges.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents say Banton, real name Mark Anthony Myrie, has been in custody since Thursday and will soon be transferred to Tampa, where the U.S. Attorney is charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine.

Buju Banton’s 1992  single, “Boom Bye Bye” calls for gay people to be shot in the head with automatic weapons, have acid poured on them, and burned “like an old tire wheel.” British LGBT Activist Peter Tatchel called the song “probably the most murderous incitement recorded by any singer anywhere in the world.” In 2007 Banton was among a number of reggae artists who signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, promising to refrain from performing homophobic songs or making homophobic statements. He later denied signing the pact, and has performed “Boom Bye Bye” since renouncing the agreement.

This past fall, Banton’s U.S. tour was marked with several concert cancellations due to protests from members of local and national LGBT groups. During the tour, Banton told a Jamaican radio station, “This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs ‘there is no end to the war between me and faggot’ and it’s clear.” Last week, Banton’s latest album, Rasta Got Soul, earned a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album. In response, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) launched a petition drive calling on the Recording Academy to withdraw Banton’s nomination.

Murder Music Performer Garners Grammy Nomination

Jim Burroway

December 3rd, 2009

Buju BantonJamaican dancehall and murder music performer Buju Banton has just secured a fourth Grammy nomination, this time a Best Reggae Album nomination for Rasta Got Soul. This follows a contentious U.S. tour in which several venues canceled Banton’s performance due to protests from members of local and national LGBT community groups.

Buju Banton has came under fire for performing songs advocating violence against gay people, including his 1992  single, “Boom Bye Bye” which calls for gay people to be shot in the head with automatic weapons, have acid poured on them, and burned “like an old tire wheel.” UK LGBT Activist Peter Tatchel called the song “probably the most murderous incitement recorded by any singer anywhere in the world.” In 2007 Banton was among a number of reggae artists who signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, promising to refrain from performing homophobic songs or making homophobic statements. He later denied signing the pact, and has performed “Boom Bye Bye” since renouncing the agreement.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed that Banton was among six men involved in a gay bashing in June 2004 in Constant Spring, Jamaica. After meeting with Bay-area LGBT activists during Banton’s 2009 U.S. tour, Banton announced on Jamaican radio that “there is no end to the war between me and faggot.”

[Hat tip: Michael Petrelis]

Buju Banton: “No End To the War Between Me and Gays”

Jim Burroway

October 16th, 2009
Back row, L - R: Buju's PR rep Jonathan Mack, SF Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Andrea Shorter of Equality California, Eric Mar, Rebecca Rolfe and Tracii McGregor of Gargamel Music. Front row, LGBT activist Michael Petrelis and Buju Banton.

Back row, L - R: Buju's PR rep Jonathan Mack, SF Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Andrea Shorter of Equality California, Eric Mar, Rebecca Rolfe and Tracii McGregor of Gargamel Music. Front row, LGBT activist Michael Petrelis and Buju Banton.

So much for dialog. Buju Banton, speaking by telephone to a Jamaican talk show, completely disavowed his meeting with three California LGBT activists, saying he will not “surrender” to the group’s proposals, claiming they would contradict his “religion and culture”:

“This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs ‘there is no end to the war between me and faggot’ and it’s clear. The same night after I met with them (gay associates), they pepper-sprayed the concert. So what are you trying to tell me?” claimed Banton who phoned Mutabaruka’s Cutting Edge talk-show on Wednesday in order to clarify his meeting in the US gay capital. “I owe dem nothing, they don’t owe I nothing.”

…”Them come with demands which I and I a go flop dem right now, because give thanks to my culture and upbringing I coulda never endorse them things. I can’t sell myself out, neither would I do that in a thousand years,” he continued. “I love everyone in the world. I don’t love no special group from another group. There are other needy organisations out there.”

It looks like Peter Tatchell was right. J-FLAG is was skeptical about the meeting as well.

[Hat tip: GLBTQ Jamaica]

Buju Banton’s Cancelled LA Show Rebooked On the Downlow?

Jim Burroway

October 15th, 2009

That’s what seems to have happened:

Jamaican Reggae star Buju Banton, whose upcoming performance in Los Angeles was initially canceled after outcry over his homophobic lyrics, may be slated to perform Thursday night.

A woman speaking for Hollywood’s Cabana Club told Advocate.com on Thursday that the event had yet to be confirmed — five hours before the scheduled start time, 9 p.m. However, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center has announced it will be holding a silent protest in front of the club on Thursday.

Banton’s North American tour has experienced multiple cancellations over the past few months as LGBT activists have protested his music advocating the murder of gay people. On Monday, LGBT advocates Michael Petrelis, San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, EQCA’s Andrea Shorter met with Banton and pressed him with several ideas on how to diffuse the controversy. Despite the fact that Banton rejected every suggestion out of hand, the LGBT advocates hailed it as a “good first step.” Karen Ocamb found that hard to take:

And now that photo op, glowing press from the SF Weekly, and a few quotes from Dufty and Petrelis about how this was a “good first step” are being used by Banton’s PR team to put a crack in the wall of what up to this point has been a successful boycott with promoters cancelling concerts.  That pictures made newspapers, TV stations and blogs from South Miami to Jamaica.

News of the meeting met with glowing reviews from The Jamaica Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer, which asks “Buju Breaks Under Pressure?” The clear message in both articles is for Banton to hold firm.

Karen Ocamb asked UK activist Peter Taschell for comment on the meeting. Tatchell has been at the forefront of the long-running campaign to stop murder music by asking artists to sign the Reggae Compassionate Act. Tatchell reports that Banton signed the document in 2007, only to repudiate it in the weeks following.  In the email to Ocamb, Tatchell described the photo-op as “a big propaganda victory for Banton”:

Despite their reported failure to secure anything from Banton, LGBT activists agreed to allow his concert at the Rock It Room to go ahead. If true, I am stunned that Banton’s demand for a concert was conceded in exchange for nothing tangible from him.

…This meeting is a big propaganda victory for Banton. He can now use it to show that he has dialogue with the LGBT community. It will be ruthlessly exploited by his management to undermine the LGBT campaign and the concert cancellations.

Meanwhile, Banton’s tour continues:

Buju Banton Tour Update

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2009

It’s been a while since we checked in on Buju Banton, the Jamaican dancehall singer whose music advocating violent deaths for gay people has caused several American concert venues to cancel his performances. San Francisco LGBT activist Michael Petrelis met with Buju Banton and his entourage. According to Petrelis, Banton’s advisers said they really wanted to put the controversy behind them, but Banton rejected every suggestion Petrelis made to address the issue. Meanwhile, the Jamaica Observer hailed Banton’s tour as “the biggest-selling reggae tour of the year,” despite the controversy and cancellations.

The web site Cancel Buju Banton has been doing a good job at keeping tabs on those cancellations and reschedules. As of this evening, here’s how things look:

[Hat tips: GLBTQ Jamaica, Michael Petrelis]

Buju Banton Salt Lake City Concert Cancelled

Jim Burroway

September 15th, 2009

Buju Banton’s October 8 concert scheduled for the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City has been cancelled. Club operators say they were unaware of his murder music lyrics when they booked him.

Buju Banton Performs Tonight In Philly; Columbus, Cincinnati, Minneapolis Concerts Cancelled

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2009

Thanks to BTB reader Stefano A. for this one:

The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion [in Columbus, Ohio] has canceled the 3 October show. Marketing Director Amy Cooper confirmed the cancellation but would make no other comment other than to state that: PromoWest did not directly schedule the Banton concert, but only rented the venue to an outside agency that handles the show booking, lighting, production and other aspects (except security). Cooper would not provide contact information for the outside booking agent.

An Oct 2 concert for Cincinnati is also listed as canceled by Ticketmaster, as is the one scheduled for Oct 4 Minneapolis.

Buju Banton performs tonight at the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia, and tomorrow at the Reggae Fest at the Crossroads Nightclub in Bladensburg, MD.

Two More Murder Music Concert Cancellations Announced

Jim Burroway

August 29th, 2009

According to a press release from the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, two more concerts by murder music dancehall singer Buju Banton have been canceled. In addition to the four House of Blues dates mentioned earlier, AEG Live/Goldenvoic have announced the cancellations of scheduled concerts in Los Angeles (Oct. 14), in San Francisco (Oct. 10), and Philadelphia (Sept. 12).

This is in addition to the announced cancellation by Live Nation of four concerts at House of Blues venues in Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Houston. However as of 12:30 p.m. EST this afternoon, Live Nation’s web site is still selling tickets for the Houston concert.

All seventeen concerts which Ticketmaster promoted are still listed on the Ticketmaster web site, including the House of Blues engagements. In addition to the six announced cancellations still being listed, Ticketmaster is still promoting concerts in Bladensburg, MD (Sept 13); Revere, MA (Sept 18); Newark, NJ (Sept 20); Norfolk, VA (Sept 25); Richmond VA (Sept 26); Detroit (Sept 30); Cincinnati (Oct 2); Columbus, OH (Oct 3); Minneapolis (Oct 4); and Atlanta (Oct 24).

According to VH1, additional cities on the tour include Providence, RI (Sept 13); New Haven, CT (Sept 16); Portland, ME (Sept 17); Charlotte, NC (Sept 23); Raleigh, NC (Sept 24); Norfolk, VA (Sept 25); White Plains, NY (Spet 27); Denver (Oct 6); Aspen (Oct 7); Salt Lake City (Oct 8); Eureka, CA (Oct 11); Albuquerque (Oct 19); Charleston, SC (Oct 27); Jacksonville (Oct 29); Ybor City, FL (Oct 30); Miami (Oct 31);  and Orlando (Nov 1).

Live Nation Announces Cancellation of Four Murder Music Concerts

Jim Burroway

August 28th, 2009

Four down, twenty-nine more to go. Live Nation announced in an email message yesterday that they have cancelled Buju Banton’s four concerts at the House of Blues locations in Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Houston. However, as of 9:30 am EST, the Live Nation web site only lists two cancellations: Las Vegas and Dallas. Tickets are still available for Chicago and Houston.

All seventeen concerts which Ticketmaster promoted are still listed on the Ticketmaster web site, including the House of Blues engagements. In addition to those four House of Blues concerts, Ticketmaster is still promoting concerts in Philadelphia (Sept 12); Bladensburg, MD (Sept 13); Revere, MA (Sept 18); Newark, NJ (Sept 20); Norfolk, VA (Sept 25); Richmond VA (Sept 26); Detroit (Sept 30); Cincinnati (Oct 2); Columbus, OH (Oct 3); Minneapolis (Oct 4); San Francisco (Oct 10); Los Angeles (Oct 14); and Atlanta (Oct 24).

According to VH1, additional cities on the tour include Providence, RI; New Haven, CT; Charlotte and Raleigh, NC; Richmond, VA; Denver; Aspen; Salt Lake City; Eureka, CA; Albuquerque; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Ybor City, FL.

Live Nation, Ticketmaster Promote Murder Music Concert Tour

Jim Burroway

August 25th, 2009

Live Nation and Ticketmaster are promoting a new concert tour by Jamaican danchall artist Buju Banton who is renowned for lyrics calling for the murder of gay people. Announced concert venues include such cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas.

Buju Banton has a long history of performing songs advocating violence against gay people, including one song, “Boom Bye Bye” which calls for gay people to be shot in the head with automatic weapons, have acid poured on them, and burned “like an old tire wheel.” UK LGBT Activist Peter Tatchel called the song “probably the most murderous incitement recorded by any singer anywhere in the world.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed that Buju Banton was among six men involved in a gay bashing in June 2004 in Constant Spring, Jamaica. UK

The portions of Buju Banton tour promoted by Live Nation will hit House of Blues franchises in four cities: Chicago (Oct 1), Las Vegas (Oct 15), Dallas (Oct 20) and Houston (Oct 22). House of Blues is owned by Live Nation.

Ticketmaster is promoting not only the four House of Blues dates, but also thirteen other concerts across the country. Concerts being promoted by Ticketmaster include: Philadelphia (Sept 12); Bladensburg, MD (Sept 13); Revere, MA (Sept 18); Newark, NJ (Sept 20); Norfolk, VA (Sept 25); Richmond VA (Sept 26); Detroit (Sept 30); Cincinnati (Oct 2); Columbus, OH (Oct 3); Minneapolis (Oct 4); San Francisco (Oct 10); Los Angeles (Oct 14); and Atlanta (Oct 24).

According to VH1, other cities on the tour include Providence, RI; New Haven, CT; Charlotte and Raleigh, NC; Richmond, VA; Denver; Aspen; Salt Lake City; Eureka, CA; Albuquerque; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Ybor City, FL.