Following his capture by Jamaican police, Michael Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke has been extradited to the United States to face pending charges of drug and arms trafficking. “The President”, as he is also known, issued a statement about his decision “to waive [his] right to an extradition hearing in Jamaica and to proceed directly to the United States…”, a decision met with interest by some Jamaicans who “want him to sing like a canary regarding his dealings with influential people in the society.” YardFlex.com quotes one unnamed woman as saying “that there is a lot of dirt to come out” and “that Jamaicans should be prepared for a rude awakening.” There has also been a lot of discussion about the fact that Reverend Al Miller (the clergyman who was reportedly escorting ‘Dudus’ to turn himself over to U.S. authorities at the time of his capture) “has been charged by the Police for perverting the course of justice and harbouring a fugitive.”
As that fugitive arrived on U.S. soil, YardFlex was prompted to ask:
Now dat dem have him wah now….
Jamaica can go back to normal or not, hope we the people can see the difference.
@ArnoldKer took a more serious view of the situation in a series of tweets:
As a ppl, unless we stand by our word, our politicians will do wat is necessary to pacify us for d moment. They kno how to play da game…
Weeks ago everyone was callin for Dudus’ capture & now that he has been & the media has humanized him we're not so sure anymore….
After a while, though, she too got in on the fun:
Meanwhile, Annie Paul lamented that it was left up to the international media to “speculat[e] on the reasons for Christopher Coke's nickname…”:
The New York Post tells us that of Jim Brown's three sons:
The youngest was Christopher, who earned his nickname ‘Dudus’ — pronounced DUD-us — because he wore an African-style shirt favored by Jamaican World War II hero and Cabinet minister Dudley Thompson.
She did concede, however, that “there [was] a ray of hope on the media horizon in Jamaica with the establishment of On the Ground News Reports”, which she called “an invaluable source of news in the wake of the May 23rd assault on Tivoli”:
At first i was wary of the tweets coming from OGNR but then i noticed that almost everything they tweeted was later confirmed in the mainstream media. OGNR was providing the news live and direct almost as it happened.
In fact they were the ‘social media’ that the information minister Daryl Vaz was fulminating against when the government cracked down on media here denying them access to Tivoli and its environs.
Commenting on her own blog post on Twitter, she added:
In a matter of weeks Coke has gone from being the most feared gang leader or strongman in Jamaica to a figure of scorn and ridicule after Police released photos of him wearing a wig and looking like an earnest church-going matron. Many are convinced that the police deliberately placed the wig on his head before photographing him in order to humiliate him and raise doubts about the awesome powers he is supposed to possess.
She also put Coke's decision to waive his right to an extradition hearing in perspective:
The nation which had waited with bated breath to see if Coke would actually leave the island alive heaved a sigh of relief. His ill-fated father, the legendary Jim Brown, was set ablaze in his Kingston cell on the eve of his extradition to the US for similar charges. That was in the nineties.
Coke himself seems surprised and grateful at the restraint shown by Jamaican Police when they intercepted the car he was travelling in with Reverend Al Miller on May 22nd. The Police, once famously described by Bob Marley as being “all dressed in uniforms of brutality” seem to have finessed a textbook arrest of the country’s Public Enemy Number One with no shots fired and not a drop of blood shed. This is contrary to the way they normally deal with suspected criminals.
Jamaica Salt quoted Coke's lawyer, who “has been re-iterating the fact that negotiations for Dudus’s surrender were going on before the Tivoli Gardens bloodshed. That he had wished to be taken straight to US custody from the beginning”, saying:
This is bad because it shows how the raid on Tivoli was unnecessary and could have been avoided if the talks had been successful then. But why weren’t they successful?
Writer Kei Miller was less intrigued by that question than what he calls “this strange history of bad men dressing like girls”; he mused about the trend in a Facebook note:
In a country where Dudus…could wear wigs and frocks; and in a country where any tour of dancehall will feature a few male dance crews who always offer…the most profound and sometimes magical performances of Jamaican queerness; and in a country where bad men run across garrison communities – one hand holding onto their uzi guns, and the other lifting up the hem of their frocks so as not to trip, then we know the real truth – that bad man dress however de rass him want to dress. And that’s exactly what makes them de real bad men. Selah.
His analysis opened the door to give blogger Annie Paul the last word:
Everyone is crying out for peace yes, none is crying out for justice sang Peter Tosh in his famous song Equal Rights. Ultimately its only equal rights and justice, yoked together for all citizens, that will deliver lasting peace in Jamaica.
Meanwhile Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke remains an intriguing and tragic figure. Except for the unflattering bewigged photo circulated by the police after his arrest Coke was never shown in the Jamaican media wearing handcuffs or otherwise displaying signs of someone whose freedom has been severely curtailed. In contrast the very first photo of Coke after he landed in the US shows him with his arms handcuffed behind him. The message is clear; as far as the United States is concerned Coke is a vicious criminal. In Jamaica however, his status is far more ambiguous.