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What Vybz Kartel's Conviction Says About Jamaican Justice & Dancehall
Written by Matthew Hunte On 17 March 2014 @ 16:47 pm | 1 Comment
In Arts & Culture, Caribbean, Citizen Media, English, Jamaica, Law, Music, Weblog, Youth
The conviction of dance-hall star Vybz Kartel (Adidja Palmer) and three associates for the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams has dominated online discussion in Jamaica since the verdict was announced. Much of the debate has centered around what Kartel's conviction says about dancehall culture and Jamaica's justice system, with some social media users wondering how someone with as much talent and resources as Kartel could have found himself in such a situation.
Blogger Annie Paul curated various responses to the Kartel verdict . She also shared some of her own:
I fully believed that Kartel and co. would walk; because of the weakness of Jamaica’s justice system, the strength of the defence team, and because the powerful are rarely tried, let alone found guilty in this society. But no!
Many of us thought that Kartel would have got off because the jury would have felt too intimidated to find him guilty. Clearly they didn’t. This too was something the DPP must have been keen on establishing, to signal to potential jurors and a timorous public that the all-abiding fear that curtails the carriage of justice too often is perhaps overstated and unnecessary.
Paul also had some thoughts about Williams, the murder victim who, to her mind, has been overlooked in the coverage:
Lizard’s sister, Stephanie Breakenridge, sat in the courtroom sobbing every now and then as the final moments arrived. In all of the circus around this celebrity court case her brother, seen in the video above dancing and bigging up the Gaza Empire, had been virtually forgotten in the media coverage of the trial, except perhaps as its subject, in cold, clinical terms. His terror-filled texts had been read to the courtroom earlier in the trial but otherwise very little was known of the young man who thought his moment in the sun had arrived the day he was adopted by Kartel and his group.
This Twitter user wondered why, given the lyrical content of Kartel's songs, so many are still adamant about his innocence:
All these 'Jamericans' need to shut the hell up about 'free world boss'. The man makes music about murdering but ya'll say he's innocent?
— TroubleMan (@Kid_illmatic) March 17, 2014 
One fan pointed out that Kartel could continue to make music whilst incarcerated:
I understand unnu want worldboss free, but free or in jail di man still a mek music, so a no like seh from im gone a jail im no drop no song
— KelRiah (@Nah_Aintboutit) March 17, 2014 
Another argued that it was unfair to compare Vybz Kartel's situation to Buju Banton's , adding that another difference was in the support that the two artists received:
I wish ppl Will stop comparing Buju situation to kartel. Buju was clearly entrapped. Kartel had a choice to let it go. Buju will see road!
— Michieboo (@michieboo101) March 17, 2014 
How many artist showed up to be a character witness for Buju? Many How many showed for the world boss? It speaks to the character !
— Michieboo (@michieboo101) March 17, 2014 
Speaking of character, one netizen compared Kartel to the notorious don Christopher “Dudus” Coke :
Kartel was the dudus of dancehall, because everyone jumps when #worldboss  speaks…
— ********* (@star_jibril) March 17, 2014 
Yet another tweeter compared Kartel's Portmore Empire/Gaza crew to the American rap label, Death Row Records :
Portmore Empire/Gaza kind of remind me of Death Row records in the 90s.
— Ren DeWitt (@Ren_Egade) March 17, 2014 
Some of Kartel's over-exuberant fans attempted to petition the US government to grant Kartel a re-trail (the petition has since been taken down. ) This attempt was met with bemusement by some on Twitter:
Petition launched for Obama to investigate Vybz Kartel Trial. MY jesus lord Jamaica, get a life
— Lupeita Fiascyong'o (@IAmPlateface) March 17, 2014 
“@Gordonswaby : Vybz Kartel petition removed from US Gov’s “We the people” website. *smh*” u no hear say Jamaica is the 53rd state??!
— KIM NAIN music XO (@Kim_Nain) March 17, 2014 
Finally, Trinidad-based music promoter Tony Chow Lin On tweeted a message for those who continue to support Kartel :
Instead of trying to free d world boss, you should free your mind
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/03/17/what-vybz-kartels-conviction-says-about-jamaican-justice-dancehall/
URLs in this post:
 conviction of dance-hall star Vybz Kartel : http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/03/14/jamaican-dancehall-star-vybz-kartel-found-guilty-of-murder/
 curated various responses to the Kartel verdict: http://anniepaul.net/2014/03/14/vybz-kartel-found-guilty-of-murder/#comments
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/Kid_illmatic/statuses/445383352989016064
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/Nah_Aintboutit/statuses/445393726186471424
 to Buju Banton's: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/06/24/jamaica-buju-gets-10-years/
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/michieboo101/statuses/445401491109871616
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/michieboo101/statuses/445399893310709760
 Christopher “Dudus” Coke: https://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/06/29/jamaica-bloggers-discuss-dudus-extradition/
 #worldboss: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23worldboss&src=hash
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/star_jibril/statuses/445392149778272256
 Death Row Records: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Row_Records
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/Ren_Egade/statuses/445393507633885184
 the petition has since been taken down.: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/retrial-jamaican-dancehall-artist-vybz-kartel/9srm1rRv
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/IAmPlateface/statuses/445402054354546688
 @Gordonswaby: https://twitter.com/Gordonswaby
 March 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/Kim_Nain/statuses/445406033373302784
 tweeted a message for those who continue to support Kartel: https://twitter.com/tonychowlinon/status/444475864114552833
 thumbnail image used in this post: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37701355@N00/6270729537/in/photolist-ay88qv-8EEYzX-9SgRP9-9SgSrb-7H2GW5
 an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/
 wayne marshall's flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wayneandwax/
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