The Bob Marley Shooting
Before the Biggie and ‘Pac shootings, there was the Bob Marley shooting…After the shooting, Bob Marley held what is considered one of his best concerts, then left Jamaica to Produce some of his greatest music, beginning with the album ‘Exodus’.
In the Bob Marley shooting, Cold War Politics, Jamaica’s Post-Independence instability and street crime intersect.
Jamaica: The Politics Behind The Bob Marley Shooting
Since independence, Jamaica’s Political space had always been heavily contested as the Nation sought to become integrated and overcome the segregationist legacies of both Slavery and Colonialism.
However, in the 1970s, things took a sinister turn.
As the mid-’70s progressed, Kingston had increasingly come to resemble a war zone. Supermarkets ran short on stock, power cuts were plentiful, guns flooded the island, no-go areas were patrolled by brutal soldiers operating under their own twisted law.
The root of the tension was the approaching election between the US-backed Jamaican Labour Party and the People’s National Party, linked to Cuba and Russia.
Both aggressively courted Marley’s support for their cause, since he’d become an artistic totem of Jamaica, and as much as Bob tried to remain impartial in his small, open-house Rastafarian collective at Hope Road – a utopian ‘safe house’ for young people caught up in the violent political disputes – he was drawn in by his own cultural gravity.
Marley had organised a non-political free concert called Smile Jamaica to help ease tensions, but the incumbent PNP moved the date of the election to coincide with the concert, effectively turning it into a rally for the government. Bob was furious and danger crowded in upon his house on Hope Road.
On December 3, armed gunmen entered Bob Marley’s Home, shooting at least 3 people and Bob himself only avoided the shot aimed at his chest because his Manager Don Taylor shoved him to the floor. The bullet caught him in the arm where it stayed until his eventual death in 1981.
The shooting did not stop the concert though which went ahead despite Bob’s security fears following the shooting…However, to ensure his own safety, He left Jamaica for London immediately after the concert.
Cold War And The Bob Marley Shooting
Gary Webb’s book,”The Dark Alliance,” helps shed light on the darker forces complicit in the Bob Marley shooting.
American Intelligence reportedly began a destabilization program of Jamaica’s then Manley government in late 70s which it viewed as Communist due its close ties with Cuba. Part of that plan was assassinations, money for the Jamaican Labour Party, labor unrest, bribery and shipping weapons to Manley’s opponents, including Criminal street ‘Dons’ like Lester “Jim Brown” Coke.
Lester Coke would later be burned to death in a Jamaican jail cell, while awaiting extradition the the United States. Many people have claimed that he was killed so he wouldn’t reveal his secrets dealing with the CIA, JLP and criminal activity.
In its efforts to destabilize the Jamaican government in the 1970s, US Intelligence may have created criminal cartels. Through the cocaine trade, these criminals would eventually become more powerful than the politicians they were connected to. The Intelligence destabilization program did not only destabilize Jamaica in the 70s, but it destabilized Jamaica for the next 40 years.
It also created havoc in the US as Lester’s Coke-dealing ‘Shower Posse’ Crew terrorized New York in the 80s under the protection of the Jamaican Government as payment for Lester ‘Jim Brown’s’ role in the Bob Marley shooting.
Conclusion: The World Since The Bob Marley Shooting
The Bob Marley shooting was tragic on an individual level, but it also represents a cycle of State sponsored gun trafficking, gun smuggling and violence that plagues Jamaica and the world today.
The documentary ‘Blood and Fire’ captures the Jamaican story quite well, and its only right that we play out with Bob’s classic ‘I Shot The Sheriff’.