Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

The late Lowell Hawthorne. CEO of the Golden Krust Empire.

Over the past couple of days, the Jamaican & by extension the Caribbean Diaspora has been rocked by news of Golden Krust CEO Lowell Hawthorne committing suicide. Hawthorne through his empire has been seen as the pinnacle of success in the Jamaican, Caribbean and Immigrant communities. Here are some of the reports:

From the Jamaica Observer:

NEW YORK, USA — The founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill killed himself inside his Bronx factory yesterday, police sources said. Lowell Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside the Park Avenue building about 5:30 pm, sources said.

More than a dozen current and former employees stood in disbelief outside the factory for hours.

Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store on E Gun Hill Road in 1989.

He built the Jamaica beef patty purveyor into a national empire boasting more than 120 restaurants across the US.

It also produces more than 50 million patties a year for retail stores, and supplies them to about 20,000 outlets.

“We believe in the power of the patty,” Hawthorne, a former winner of the Observer’s Business Leader Award, said in May.

Some of his employees said they suspected something was amiss when they spotted his car, a silver Tesla 85D, parked oddly outside the factory. It was left straddling two lanes.

 

From the New York Times:

Death of Jamaican Fast-Food Magnate Stuns Friends and Workers

Lowell Hawthorne used the flavors of his native Jamaica to build a fast-food empire from scratch in the United States.

But after 28 years as the president and chief executive of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, Mr. Lowell fatally shot himself on Saturday, the police said.

The entrepreneur’s death sent shock waves through the Caribbean community in New York, where he was seen as an immigrant success story, and in Jamaica. And it stunned his family, friends and customers.

“Our hearts are broken, and we are struggling to process our grief over this tremendous loss,” the Golden Krust company said in a statement on Sunday. “Lowell was a visionary, entrepreneur, community champion, and above all a committed father, family man, friend and man of faith.”

The Bronx-based company, where Mr. Hawthorne had worked with his wife and four children, offered thanks to supporters, and said funeral arrangements would be announced at a later date.

FROM the New York Post.
Golden Krust CEO killed himself over tax debt, fears of probe

The founder of the Golden Krust Jamaican beef patty empire killed himself amid fears the feds were investigating him for evading millions of dollars in taxes, The Post has learned.

A family member told detectives that Lowell Hawthorne, 57, admitted the huge tax debt to some of his relatives, and was “acting funny” and “talking to himself” in the hours before his suicide, a law enforcement source said Sunday.

Surveillance video shows the meat-pie mogul shooting himself in the head at his office inside the Golden Krust bakery and warehouse in the Bronx, said the source, who was briefed on the NYPD investigation into the shooting.

Before the shooting, the video shows Hawthorne speaking with a pair of workers who left the room, both of whom were crouched down when they later returned to his office, sources said.

It was unclear if they saw Hawthorne kill himself, but one of them could be seen making a cellphone call, which a source said was to 911.

Hawthorne employed dozens of relatives at the business he started in 1989, and the source said he left a note in which he apologized to his family.

Hawthorne’s younger brother, Milton Hawthorne, 55, met cops who arrived at the Golden Krust plant at 3958 Park Ave. around 5:15 p.m. Saturday in response to a 911 call about an emotionally disturbed person armed with a gun, sources said.

Lowell, a married father of three sons and a daughter, was found on the floor of his office with a single bullet wound to his head and a handgun lying nearby, sources said.

The Jamaican immigrant started Golden Krust with a single fast-food eatery on East Gun Hill Road in the Bronx and opened 16 more across the city before launching a franchise operation in 1996.

The company now has more than 120 outlets in nine states, and sells its beef patties in more than 20,000 supermarkets, as well as to the city school system, state penal system and US military, according to a news release issued last year.

In August, Hawthorne was slapped with a proposed class-action suit alleging he cheated as many as 100-plus workers at the Golden Crust plant out of overtime pay.

The suit — fairly common in the food service industry — remains pending in Manhattan federal court.

Al Alston, who befriended Hawthorne 30 years ago when they were both NYPD accountants and now owns a Golden Krust franchise in Queens, called his suicide “more than unexpected — it’s out of character.”

“He was always an upbeat guy,” Alston said.

“We’ve been in a lot of tough jams and situations, but he was always a person who’d say, ‘We’ll get out of it.’ And we would get out of it.”

Alston said he last spoke to Hawthorne two weeks ago, adding: “He was so happy about [the recent birth of] his granddaughter.”

“All his boys are married now. He was talking about taking on a different role as a father, making his boys into husbands and fathers themselves,” Alston said.

Mourners gathered at Hawthorne’s home in Elmsford, with son Omar, Golden Krust’s director of franchise and community development, saying via email: “We are still grieving, and are not conducting any interviews at this time.”

During a brief news conference at the Golden Krust bakery, company spokesman and Hawthorne nephew Steven Clarke said widow Lorna Hawthorne was making funeral arrangements and it was unclear if there would be a public memorial service.

“Right now we’re still processing and trying to wrap our mind around this tragic loss,” he added.

Additional reporting by Daniel Prendergast, Reuven Fenton, Shari Logan and Tea Kvetenadze

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Respect to Africans throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world who fought against the holocaust of slavery. The fight led to the end of the evil system. Unfortunately the affects are still seen today and have evolved in different ways.

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

(I originally wrote this piece a few years ago, still seems to make sense to me)

By Jason Walker

Emancipation day is an important day for the descendants of Africa, especially those whose ancestors were impacted by the brutal Slave trade. In the 1800’s the holocaust of slavery was hit with a crippling blow around the world. The Emancipation Act was passed on July 31, 1834 throughout the British Empire and effectively ended the inhumane Slave Trade. Full freedom from slavery did not come until four years later on August 1, 1838.  The 4 year period was instituted as a transition period as this monumental change would irrevocably change societies worldwide. The abolition of Slavery in the British Empire would affect slavery everywhere mainly because Britain’s navy owned the seas and without the cooperation of the British Navy, it made slavery both difficult and expensive. And as destructive, dehumanizing and inhumane the European version of the system of slavery was; it was for all intents and purposes an economic manifestation.

Slavery was a cruel and destructive system that had Africans as free labourers in labour intensive industries such as Cotton, Sugar and Tobacco. Throughout the 1400’s through to the middle of the 1700’s products such as these fetched a very attractive price, along with the free labour, a tidy profit could be made. Although labour was free, the cost to keep Africans enslaved was high. Especially in areas where there were slaves freeing themselves and staging revolts. The most successful of these of course included the Maroons in Jamaica from the 1500’s through to the 1700’s and even more so the Africans (including Maroons) in Haiti who at the end of the 1700’s would successfully wage a revolution against French armies, supported by Spain and England.

Do not think though that the Emancipation act came about from any suddenly altruistic gestures by the British Monarchy. Due to the work of many abolitionists in Britain; the sentiment against the horrific system Slavery had grown tremendously among the English population. Also the prices of the aforementioned products began to drop on the world markets as new products that did not need this labour intensive situation were now rising to prominence. Along with that came the advent of the industrial age which was ushering a new era where such labour numbers were not the order of the day. All the aforementioned along with the cost of keeping control and responding to revolts made these endeavours non-attractive. Continuing the genocidal and devastating system Slavery no longer made economic sense.

As we come to the present, we find that it is only in the past two decades that countries have decided to mark this date as a holiday, and of the countries that were affected by this act (Countries in Africa, The Caribbean, Central America, South America, & North America) a small percentage actually commemorate this day*. Maybe that is appropriate; I say this because although things are different from the era of slavery, people of African descent in the aforementioned geographical areas are not in a position of true emancipation.

The definition of Emancipation from the English Oxford Dictionary states that it is “the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation:” With the majority of African persons in these areas lacking resources, political clout, and in some cases freedom, can we really call ourselves emancipated? It was probably this same observation that led former Prime Minister of Jamaica and former leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (a coalition of countries that were not listed as industrial nations) Michael Manley to say; “The enslavement of the body which endured till 1838 was nothing compared to the enslavement of the mind which persisted since”. The affects of slavery and the propaganda to support slavery has endured and left a lasting mark and has conspired to keep those of African descent in such a position.

Yet by our accomplishments singularly and in some rare cases collectively we see we are a very powerful people. So it is possible to change the current existence. However we will probably have to do what Reggae Superstar Bob Marley said in his song Redemption Song: “Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery” before we can truly be at a stage of Emancipation. So although we celebrate the Act that saw fruition on August 1 1838 annually, we should probably use these days to see where we are on the road of getting to the next stage of Emancipation and be creative in getting to that new stage.

*Countries that Celebrate Emancipation Day include: Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Canada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis

AUGUST 1 IS EMANCIPATION DAY FOR ALL PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

By Jason Walker

Emancipation day is an important day for the descendants of Africa, especially those whose ancestors were impacted by the Slave trade. In the 1800’s the holocaust of slavery was hit with a crippling blow around the world. The Emancipation Act was passed on July 31, 1834 throughout the British Empire and effectively ended the Slave Trade. Full freedom from slavery did not come until four years later on August 1, 1838.  The 4 year period was instituted as a transition period as this monumental change would irrevocably change societies worldwide. The abolition of Slavery in the British Empire would affect slavery everywhere mainly because Britain’s navy owned the seas and without the cooperation of the British Navy, it made slavery both difficult and expensive. And as destructive, dehumanizing and inhumane the European version of the system of slavery was; it was for all intents and purposes an economic manifestation.

Slavery was a system used to have Africans as free labourers in labour intensive industries such as Cotton, Sugar and Tobacco. Throughout the 1400’s through to the middle of the 1700’s products such as these fetched a very attractive price, along with the free labour, a tidy profit could be made. Although labour was free, the cost to keep Africans enslaved was high. Especially in areas where there were slaves freeing themselves and staging revolts. The most successful of these of course included the Maroons in Jamaica from the 1500’s through to the 1700’s and even more so the Africans (including Maroons) in Haiti who would successfully wage a revolution against French armies, supported by Spain and England.

Do not think though that the Emancipation act came about from any altruistic gestures by the British Monarchy. Due to the work of many abolitionists in Britain; the sentiment against Slavery had grown tremendously among the English population. Also the prices of the aforementioned products began to drop on the world markets as new products that did not need this labour intensive situation were now rising to prominence. Along with that came the advent of the industrial age which was ushering a new era where such labour numbers were not the order of the day. All the aforementioned along with the cost of keeping control and responding to revolts made these endeavours non-attractive. Continuing Slavery no longer made economic sense.

As we come to the present, we find that it is only in the past two decades that countries have decided to mark this date as a holiday, and of the countries that were affected by this act (Countries in Africa, The Caribbean, Central America, South America, & North America) a small percentage actually commemorate this day*. Maybe that is appropriate; I say this because although things are different from the era of slavery, people of African descent in the aforementioned geographical areas are not in a position of true emancipation.

The definition of Emancipation from the British Oxford Dictionary states that it is “the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation:” With the majority of African persons in these areas lacking resources, political clout, and in some cases freedom, can we really call ourselves emancipated? It was probably this same observation that led former Prime Minister of Jamaica and former leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (a coalition of countries that were not listed as industrial nations) Michael Manley to say; “The enslavement of the body which endured till 1838 was nothing compared to the enslavement of the mind which persisted since”. The affects of slavery and the propaganda to support slavery has endured and left a lasting mark and has conspired to keep those of African descent in such a position.

Yet by our accomplishments singularly and in some rare cases collectively we see we are a very powerful people. So it is possible to change the current existence. However we will probably have to do what Reggae Superstar Bob Marley said in his song Redemption Song: “Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery” before we can truly be at a stage of Emancipation. So although we celebrate the Act that saw fruition on August 1 1838 annually, we should probably use these days to see where we are on the road of getting to the next stage of Emancipation and be creative in getting to that new stage.

*Countries that Celebrate Emancipation Day include: Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Canada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis

Trayvon Martin shot and killed at 17 years old while walking to a family member's house.

One evening in Florida a black teenager by the name of  Trayvon Martin was walking to a relative’s house when he was approached by a white man by the name of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman proceeded to shoot the teenager, killing him, admitted this to the police and has not been charged!

Change.org is running a petition to send to the Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney to investigate the murder and prosecute George Zimmerman. Below are the details from Trayvon’s mother about the murder and where to go to sign.

Why This Is Important O

n February 26, my son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked to a family member’s home from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. He was only 17 years old.

Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to police that he shot Trayvon in the chest. Zimmerman, the community’s self appointed “neighborhood watch leader,” called the police to report a suspicious person when he saw Travyon, a young black man, walking from the store. But Zimmerman, who is white, still hasn’t been charged for murdering my son.

Trayvon was my hero. At the age 9, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that’s all gone.

When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All I know about what happened next is that my 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.

It’s been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer – saying he’s “a college grad” who took a class in criminal justice.

Please join me in calling on Norman Wolfinger, Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney, to investigate my son’s murder and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin.

Click on the link! >>>>>>>>>>> https://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-17-year-old-trayvon-martin#

UPDATE
NATIONAL RALLY FOR JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON MARTIN TO TAKE PLACE IN SANFORD, FLORIDA, THIS THURSDAY FEATURING KEYNOTE REMARKS BY REVEREND AL SHARPTON ALONG WITH SPECIAL GUEST HOST MICHAEL BAISDEN

WHO:
Parents of Trayvon Martin
Attorney Benjamin Crump & lawyers for the family of Trayvon Martin
Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network
Michael Baisden, Host of the Michael Baisden Show

WHAT:
National Rally for justice on behalf of Trayvon Martin– the unarmed African-American teenager who was shot and killed in a gated community in Florida late last month by a white neighborhood watch captain. The watch captain, George Zimmerman — a 26-year-old college student who has admitted to police that he shot the young man — still walks free.

WHERE:
First Shiloh Baptist Church
Sanford, FL 32771

WHEN:
Thursday, March 22 – 7:00 p.m.

Buju Banton needs your help

Supporters of Buju Banton Re-launch Letter Writing Campaign

West Palm Beach, Florida, September 19, 2011 – Supporters of jailed international reggae artiste Mark Anthony Myrie, popularly known as Buju Banton, re-launched the international letter writing campaign started last year. The main focus of the campaign was to get bail for the reggae icon. However, since Buju was unfortunately convicted and recently sentenced, the supporters are now asking the Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the case and correct this grave injustice. The goal is to ensure the government is made aware that the public is concerned about the case and disturbed by Buju’s unjust incarceration.

Organizers of the Letter Writing Campaign want to receive at least 50,000 letters to send to the Attorney General on December 9, 2011 to mark the day Buju was first arrested. They plan on sending letters all at once to increase the impact. They are encouraging friends, fans and supporters worldwide to print out this letter, sign, date and mail it by December 5, 2011 to:

Buju Banton Campaign

2101 Vista Parkway

Suite 4035

West Palm Beach, FL 33412

BELOW IS A COPY OF THE LETTER
Mr. Eric H. Holder
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I am writing to ask for your intervention regarding a grave injustice against Grammy winner and reggae music icon Buju Banton (legal name Mark Anthony Myrie). The incarceration of this legendary musician is unconscionable. He is currently serving a federal prison sentence for drug related charges.
He was charged as a result of information provided by a professional informant who relentlessly pursued Buju for six months to participate in a drug deal. The professional informant in Buju’s case is a convicted drug trafficker from Colombia. During the trial it was revealed that the informant has been granted legal immigration status in the U.S. and has earned over $3.3 million U.S. dollars (tax-free) for serving as an informant to various U.S. government agencies. Despite his earnings, Mr. Johnson testified that he does not pay taxes, does not pay his credit card bills and has declared bankruptcy. Furthermore, during the trial the lead investigator on the case, Sergeant Dan McCaffrey of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated that there was no evidence that Buju was a drug trafficker and that their 13 month investigation yielded nothing.
Buju 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 and won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2011 for his album “Before the Dawn”. 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. He 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 collaborating with Dave Stewart on “American Prayer,” a tribute to the President. Additionally, Buju is a family man, an employer and a generous philanthropist.
Buju’s situation is similar to that of the case of Senator Stevens of Alaska who was found guilty by a jury in October of 2008. The U.S. Justice Department subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss the Case on the grounds that the prosecution was unfair and exceeded its bounds. This act by the Justice Department did much to increase the nation’s confidence in the justice system.
Given Buju’s cultural contributions, humanitarian efforts and the unfairness of the trial, he should not be languishing in jail at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. I urge you to investigate this matter and take the action necessary to correct this grave injustice.
Sincerely,
_________________________________
Signature Address
_________________________________
Name City, State

Jason SkyWalker Interviewing Buju Banton @ Reggae Sunsplash

As the reports over the past year and a half have shown Dancehall Reggae Superstar Legend Buju Banton was arrested, held in jail for over a year, was then tried and convicted on conspiracy drug charges which could carry 15 years and the crux of the prosecution’s case rested on the testimony of a confidential informant and a recording done on Buju. Buju Banton AKA Mark Anthony Myrie has been such a positive contributor to Caribbean, Reggae, & Jamaican culture that this development will have a tremendous blow on the aforementioned communities not to mention his family, his children. There is a campaign on to ask as many people as possible to write Judge James Moody, who is to sentence Banton Thursday June 23, to ask for leniency and to share with the Judge the positive contributions that he has brought to so many. Below are the addresses of both the Judge and his probation officer who both need to get letter. Also I have an example of a letter that have been sent to the Judge.
Please send in a letter if you can.
Here are the addresses:

The Honourable James S. Moody Jr.
United States District Judge
Tampa Division
801 North Florida Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33602

Natasha Creamer
U. S. Probation Officer, P.O. Box 390
Tampa, FL 33601.

Dear Colleague;

As you are well aware, Buju Banton faces sentencing on June 23rd for his conviction on the charge conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute. We cannot change the conviction, however, our collective voices can influence the Judge to reduce the suggestion of a 15 year sentence.

Below is my open letter to the judge. If it is within you, add your voice and let the Judge know how you feel regarding the amount of time Buju serves. My letter is included below.
When addressing Ms. Creamer, we must specify that we are writing in support of Mark Myrie a/k/a Buju Banton. Based on the feedback, our letters are making a difference. Together, we will effect change for Buju!

Thank you
Natasha Von Castle

Open letters to Judge James Moody

Dear Judge Moody;
Your honour, I am writing you to make an appeal for leniency and a reduction in the time recommended for the case of Mark Anthony Myrie AKA Buju Banton who you will be sentencing on Thursday June 23. Buju Banton started his amazing career when he was but a teenager in the late eighties, he became a transcendent figure in the Reggae / Dancehall world very quickly. By the age of 21 Banton had already broken the record of having number one hits under the age of 21 in Jamaican history. By the early nineties he began to show the form that would mark his career, he began making music that would speak of positive themes, become a voice for the economically and politically oppressed and started to bring back the popularity of message music in the Dancehall especially.
Banton showed such music in the album Voice of Jamaica, but really blew this concept wide open with the album ‘Til’ Shiloh’ which would have the affect of changing the course of music for the more positive and conscious and by consequence encourage those influenced to be more positive and conscious. He has been a leading voice for the several causes such as the fight against AIDS (Banton launched Operation Willy the non-profit charity organization promoting safe sex education and dedicated to raising funds for children who are HIV positive or have lost their parents to the disease.)
Banton has consistently been a positive manifestation that has inspired many to be better and more than they thought they could have been and has represented the millions of Caribbean people and Reggae lovers around the world in only inspiring ways. All the positive Banton has done by all indications have been done for true sincere reasons, for he began writing such words and doing such deed before the lights and cameras of fame were on him. I know I was blessed to be around from the beginning.
Besides being such an icon for such a large community, he is a loving father, and in this period when so many of our children have been growing without fathers which only has negative repercussions for society in the long run, I appeal your honour to help lessen the time that these children should be away from their father. I leave you with a few of the powerful lyrics that Buju Banton AKA Mark Anthony Myrie has given the world.
Jason Walker,
A Fan, Friend, A lover of Reggae, A Lover of the Caribbean, A Jamaican, A Lover of the Positive

“Close One Yesterday”

One more day in the struggle
Have to get up and juggle
You done know, want a little sugar inna de pan
Me nah see fi trouble, no man
Oh oh oh

Said I had close one yesterday
Jah put an angel over me, be strong
Hold a firm meditation
One day things must get better, don’t you go down
Keep your head above the water
Say, one day things must get better, be strong

Said I had close one yesterday
Jah put an angel over me, be strong
Hold a firm meditation
One day things must get better, don’t you go down
Keep your head above the water
Say, one day things must get better, be strong

The rich is wise in his conceit
But the fool with over standing search him out
Poor man mourn, the rich riches increase
Be not grieved, riches are not forever

Envy not the oppressor choses none of his ways
Be not wise in his own eyes, only jah you must praise
Strive not with a man without cause
If he have done no harm, let by gone be by gone

Said I had close one yesterday
Jah put an angel over me, be strong
Hold a firm meditation
One day things must get better, don’t you go down
Keep your head above the water
Say, one day things must get better, be strong

This nine to five is a joke
Compare to the pressure the minister say
The economy is getting better
Misleading the people

The mass still suffer on jah
Scarce benefit and spoils
Jah know that we feel it day

Buju Banton

Dear Judge Moody;

In your many years within the justice system as a lawyer and Judge, I am sure you have come across cases that have either touched you, or touched the community which you represent. A touch could be a personal understanding of one or some of the components in a case, just as a touch can be pride in knowing that the justice system worked (the way it’s supposed to) in making sure the right people receive the right punishment according to their crime(s).

Your honor, I am writing this letter with the belief that I, on behalf of the community I represent, can appeal to you on a ‘touch’ level.

Before your court is the matter of Mr. Mark ‘Buju Banton’ Myrie who is due to be sentenced on June 23rd by you, for the conviction he received on the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute. I appeal to you to reduce Buju’s sentence from the recommended 15 years.

Buju is not like any man you will ever meet. He is a friend, a father, a husband and one of the pillars in the Caribbean community; not just Jamaica, but every Caribbean community in every city around the world.

As one of our pillars, he has given the community songs which nourish the soul. This nourishment has turned youths away from crime, has strengthened families and healed those who were not well.

How do we know this is true? The testimony of countless of which I am one. He spoke for me when he sang ‘I wanna go ahead without turning back / and now I see myself heading for the trap / I wanna break free but I feel trapped / a voice inside me saying don’t stop ….’ Those words were taken from the song “Optimistic Soul” which encouraged listeners to not give up, no matter how daunting the situation looks. Those were Buju’s words from 2010. If we go back 10 years before that, we have ‘there was good and evil / we chose good ….’

When an announcement is made that Buju will be performing, the show(s) sell out. Tickets are purchased by people who want a live touch of Buju’s nourishing words. Fans leave the concerts fulfilled and refocused on the right path.

We, the community, need Buju, and we need you to understand his importance to us. Because of these needs, I ask you to not sentence Buju to 15 years in prison. I ask that you consider his humanitarian works with the children of his homeland Jamaica and I ask that you consider his impact on the Caribbean community around the world. Once you’ve considered these, I ask that you set a sentence that will not see Buju away from us for a lengthy period of time.

Thank you,

Natasha Von Castle

Chief Executive Officer and President

L3 Group of Companies

Toronto, ON Canada

Kerrie and Jason Showing the Free Buju Shirt