Dancehall artiste Buju Banton expresses shock at former lawyer's death




Incarcerated Reggae/Dancehall superstar has released a heartfelt letter of condolence following the recent death of his former lawyer and the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Lumumba.

Lumumba, who represented Buju for nearly a year as he fought his 2011 drug conviction, died in a Mississippi hospital after suffering severe chest pains on Feb. 25. Buju was forced to change lawyers following Lumumba's successful mayoral election last July.

Buju Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, released the detailed letter on Friday expressing his shock at the death while giving insight into their relationship and how Lumumba helped him during his case. The full letter is below:

To the family and friend of the late Chokwe Lumumba:

My heart goes out to you all. I share in your grief immensely. Having been one of the many lives Atty. Lumumba has touched. Its with a deep sense of privation that I mourned the passing of my friend and another great black freedom fighter .Atty. Chokwe Lumumba, a warrior just like the great leader, Patrice Lumumba, who fought for the liberation of the Congo in Africa.

Atty. Lumumba fought for many who could not stand up against a profaned system that is filled with injustice.A well disciplined and principled man. We first met while I was going through the litigation process stemming from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal decision to reinstate a gun charge. A charge that was previously dismissed by the district court judge.

This tall, dignified black man walked into the visiting room at the F.C.J Miami, introduced himself and got right down to business. Atty. Lumumba had already done his homework concerning my case and clearly saw something was amiss.He never tried to sugar coat his thoughts. He believed it {was} imperative and made it very clear that I should do the same.

Throughout those protracted months I spent at the Pinellas County Jail in Tampa, FL, Atty. Lumumba called at least twice weekly. To discuss my case and ascertain all was well with me. He traveled all the way from Mississippi to Florida for attorney client visits. All these actions of genuine interest in my situation, gave me confidence in Atty Lumumba. We developed mutual respect for each other.

His appraisal for my chances as it regards justice was always realistic. Hence his proactive approach as oppose to being reactive. This brought about a favorable outcome, with the gun charge being dismissed. At the end of the evidentiary hearings in 2013, Atty. Lumumba looked me in the eyes and said, “What did you do to these people. This is not justice at all. From the gate you have been screwed”.

Now having gone through a battery of Attorneys and immense suffering, I knew without a doubt that there were some hidden forces at work and I was being shafted. Lumumba also advised me that having been elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, he was unable to continue his career as a defense Attorney.

However, he went on to recommend a few attorneys whom he believed would effectively assist me. Atty. Lumumba also reached out to my current Attorney, Professor Charles Ogletree. In parting, Atty. Lumumba again said “Mark its going to be an uphill struggle. I saw what they did to you and unfortunately, you didn’t see it coming. Once they have you, it’s hell to break free from their chains son. I wish you all the best. You can call me anytime for anything at all. However I can render assistance, trust me, I will.

We spoke several times after he was no longer my official representative. Even through third parties ,even as recent as two days before his passing. So I was not only shocked but also in a state of denial. Atty Lumumba was vigorous and energetic, even when he spoke in a subtle manner. How could this happen without warning? This is really sad. I just have to pay my respects in whatever way I can. Thank you for the time you dedicated to my cause. It will be with me forever and the countless others whom you have touched with your passion for justice.

I know you are in a much better place. If what they say is true, then you are still fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. Farewell my friend. You shall be greatly missed.

Lumumba's body currently lies in state at Jackson's City Hall ahead of his scheduled funeral on Saturday at the Jackson Convention Complex.

It was announced last week that Buju's new lawyer, Charles Ogletree filed documentation seeking a new trial in a U.S. appeals court.

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