Dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel joined several of his peers in condemning the killing of George Floyd, and he has kept up his insistence that the system continues to fail other black disenfranchised youth around the world, especially in Jamaica.
Yesterday, the incarcerated singer, through his verified Instagram account, posted a video clip of Floyd speaking, with the caption, “They tried to say he was a gangsta…but I got receipts! The system is very cunning. They kill the image/character, so the physical killing can be justified. #GeorgeFloyd.”
Floyd was killed on May 25 at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis. Footage showed a white police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”
The plea was already a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement since the death of Eric Garner in 2014, but Floyd’s killing sparked massive protests and unrest in the United States and several other cities around the world.
Kartel, 44, may feel personally affected by systemic failures such as these since he believes that he was wrongfully convicted for the murder of his associate Clive “Lizard” Williams. He has been in jail since 2011 and is hoping the UK’s Privy Council, Jamaica’s highest appellate court, will overturn the conviction after the island’s Court of Appeal mostly upheld it in April. It’s still to be decided whether the UK court will even take his case.
The deejay’s feelings on the matter were evident when one fan responded to his video post and lamented that some African Americans were celebrating the 4th of July yesterday after they were “out protesting the injustices and inhumane actions” a few weeks ago.
The Of Dons & Divas singer responded, “they got 400 years to program us, the reprogramming gon take some time. 10 years ago I didn’t give a f– about stuff like this because I thought it never affected me.”
He reiterated again on a reply to another fan, “As me say dawg, ten years ago I never give a f— about black awareness.”
As expected many GAZA fans echoed Kartel sentiments, but he did go back and forth with a few other followers who offered different points of view, before reposting the apparently errant comments with a request for Producer Skatta Burrell to “come get his people.”
One such follower questioned the Jamaican singer’s right to comment on the killing of an African-American man. Kartel, of course, blasted him in colorful language for having “no respect for racial inequality.”
Another follower, Tyron Raman, said that “the American system is not perfect but the name me a better place you’d want to live?” Raman then leaned into a popular right-wing talking point, “And FYI when blacks kill blacks nobody gives a f— because it’s hard to blame your own.”
Kartel shot back, “virtually every murderer AND murder victim in china is chinese…same for japan…same for the italian mafia… & the crypts…& the bloods… who do hawaiians kill, Mexicans?”
“B—— like you sold out nat turner because you couldn’t name a better place to live,” he continued.
Vybz Kartel lets George Floyd speak for himself to the deejay’s 1.2 million Instagram followers in the post yesterday and so helps to defend his “image and character” from the attacks that have been leveled against him since his death.
Floyd is heard making pleas with young men to give up their guns and change their ways. The 46-year-old had turned his life around after having had encounters with the law before.
Some of these encounters were exaggerated by people who said Floyd should not be held up as a symbol, like right-wing commentator and Trump supporter Candace Owens, who posted an 18-minute video that’s been viewed more than 6 million times.
At one point in her video, she said: “No one thinks that he should have died in his arrest, but what I find despicable to be is that everyone is pretending that this man lived a heroic lifestyle when he didn’t. …I refuse to accept the narrative that this person is a martyr or should be lifted up in the black community. …He has a rap sheet that is long, that is dangerous. He is an example of a violent criminal his entire life — up until the very last moment.”
Opposing commentators have disregarded most of her assertions.
Though there is no date in the video that Kartel posted, Floyd seemed to be a changed man trying to gather the pieces of a once chaotic life.
“Half these young [email protected]#%ers shooting them guns, they go home, and they knees be shaking at night but they don’t show it to nobody because they ain’t tough then, hey man come on home man one day it’s going to be you and God. You going up or you going down” Floyd said while describing a scenario that he encountered when he moved to Houston, Texas.
The four, now-fired Minneapolis police officers were criminally charged for his death, and appeared before a judge last Monday, June 29, for a brief pre-trial hearing. Floyd’s aunt and uncle attended the hearing and sat in the front row. Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Kiernan Lane, and Tou Thao appeared for separate, back-to-back pre-trial hearings in a courtroom in downtown Minneapolis.
Chauvin, the officer who appeared on video with his knee on George’s neck, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. The other officers involved were charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder and second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter.
The trial date has been tentatively set for March 8, 2021.
If anything, Floyd’s death at the hands of police has revealed the inefficiencies in policing tactics and the need for change to the system of Justice worldwide. A system that Kartel must be hoping the Privy Council will see was also flawed when the Jamaican courts sent him to jail for life.