Streets are sealed off downtown and police are forming barriers with their bicycles in order to block citizens from getting close to the Supreme Court. The reason for this is that the trial of Adidja Palmer, more commonly known as dancehall artist Vybz Kartel, is set to end any day now.
Kartel is on trial for murder and has been incarcerated for 30 months. Although he comes from a relatively comfortable upbringing in Portmore (which is the equivalent of a suburb of Toronto), Kartel is like a folk hero to many people in Jamaica. To be specific, he is a hero to people who don’t come from the wealthy “uptown” neighbourhoods, to the people who don’t trust that the police have their best interests at heart. And despite the fact that he has been incarcerated for over two years, his music remains popular, blaring from coasters and taxis and new singles being released at a torrid rate. (In fact, he put a triple album out late last year).
People are already gathering in anticipation of the verdict and some are picking fights with police. Their comments (from the Gleaner article) are telling:
“Kartel! Kartel! World Boss rule di place!” screamed an elderly woman, as police personnel armed with high-powered weapons and pepper spray came out in their numbers, seemingly well prepared. Some civilians, including attorneys, complained that the law-enforcement officers were overreacting.
The shouts of the numerous fans who gathered in downtown Kingston to pay homage to the incarcerated entertainer under punishing heat grew louder as the cops pitched tent on the roof of the Supreme Court, with high-powered weapons in hand.
An elderly woman complained that there was no reason for the large gathering of fans or police as the embattled entertainer was not as big in stature as the senior Coke.
“Him no big like Jim Brown, so why should so many policemen come out?” she said.
Commentators state that the trial is more about fighting “Babylon” and the “system” than it is about Kartel himself. And this seems to be true, judging by the type of people showing up downtown (tattooed, bleached young people). Read a couple of perspective here and here.
Whatever the verdict, let’s hope that downtown remains peaceful, wherever the world boss ends up.