Foota Hype says he is able to roam across the United States freely, in spite of the tracking device which was slapped onto his ankle to track his movements, prior to him being conditionally released from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody last month.
On Friday the veteran dancehall selector, whose real name is Oniel Thomas, posted a photo of himself clad in knee-length pants, posing next to a motorcar, which he captioned “Just giving thanks for life. All praises to the universe. My ancestors surround me so I’m blessed.”
Very noticeable around the 38 year old’s right ankle was the black electronic monitoring device, which ICE requires some people to wear as an alternative to detention.
One curious fan asked Foota how far he was able to travel with the device on his foot to which he boldly replied: “Anyweh di bookings deh!”
While some of his fans teased him about his skinny legs and his huge feet, others like rayangreen7 expressed displeasure that he had to be walking around with the ankle bracelet.
“You are not a criminal. Why do they put a bracelet on your GPS monitor? This place is f*cking crazy…” he stated.
A day later, while speaking on the Onstage television programme, Foota told the host Winford Williams, that his detention by the ICE was baseless, and that he was expecting to be a free man as soon as his next court date is held, as his case is ‘very strong’.
“The circumstances and the basis off of which I was arrested, don’t make any sense to even me. Because basically I am charged with smuggling myself into America (that) I am trying to enter America without papers. That’s the charge, when while I was arrested, I have travel documents that permit me to travel until July 2020,” Foota explained.
The Cassava Piece native said when he was apprehended last year at the end of Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock Cruise in Florida, the police did not ask to see his travel documents, but instead kept quizzing him about whether he was carrying ganja in his suitcase. He said he told them they had the wrong person as he neither smokes or drinks alcohol.
“They handcuffed me and took me to the airport and paced me in a cell. So if it is an immigration situation, how was there no immigration process from my point of apprehension to going to the airport? They didn’t review my passport; they didn’t do nothing. All they were asking me about is weed,” he said.
He said the reason he spent a protracted time in detention was due to the absence of the judge on the date of what was to have been his last hearing. He said all his witnesses and lawyer were in attendance on that day, but were disappointed after he was made to stay an additional 2 ½ months in state custody.
Foota, who was released last month, on humanitarian grounds due to him being afflicted with diabetes and clean police record, says he is still unable to leave the country.
“So the thing is that I have a chronic illness. I have diabetes, so because of the Corona pandemic and the situation with Corona spreading and people dying rapidly, and I have no charge – I have no criminal offence prior to this; I don’t even have a parking ticket – so we were given first preference to go outside until court resumes,” he said.
Foota also told the Onstage host of his dismay after a petition which was circulated on his behalf to be sent to the Governor of Florida, to lobby for his release during the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, was not well supported by members of the dancehall fraternity.
“I felt hurt because for me as someone very dominant in dancehall, to send out a petition, I can count less than five artistes who repost the petition. So if it was for my industry alone, I would still be locked up right now,” he said.
Yesterday’s episode of Onstage is available on YouTube.