Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter
When Robert Lee Young, more popularly known as Changa Changa, shows up to court today, he is not only expected to be fully decked out in his usual banana balk fashion wear (despite being warned against wearing such), but he will also be backed by a number of Rastafarian protesters, who have recently petitioned and demanded that all charges against him – assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest – be dropped.
Changa Changa was, on Friday, July 12, 2019, walking along a section of Kent Avenue in Montego Bay, when he was approached by two police officers. In an earlier report, the Western Mirror revealed the circumstances under which the entertainer, who has been so known for over 40 years, got caught in a tangle with the law. According to the report, “Changa Changa was asked for a search by one of the officers, to which he obliged. He was further asked to declare whether or not he had any illegal items or substances on him, which he denied. The lawmen’s search, according to Changa Changa, turned up nothing illegal. At that point, he was asked for a strip search, which he passionately refused.”
In his words, Changa Changa claimed that he was manhandled by the police, who sought to “make a mockery” of him. He was taken to the Barnett Street Police Station, where he was charged for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. The former Herbert Morrison Technical High School student was also warned that his court appearance dress code had to conform to “normal” attire – a seemingly impossible request for Changa Changa, who has, for the past 40 years, donned his banana balk-fashioned clothing. He disclosed he has no intention of wearing “normal” attire.
CORAL GARDENS BENEVOLENT SOCIETY GETS INVOLVED
Following the series of events that led to Changa Changa’s arrest and the subsequent charges placed against him, the ever-active Coral Gardens Benevolent Society (CGBS) added its voice to the mix, and has made several bold demands. In a statement to the Western Mirror, the CBGS shared: “The action of the police in this case is a stark reminder of the human rights abuses that were meted out to members of the Rastafari community during the State-sponsored atrocities of 1963. Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society has been at the forefront advocating for such atrocities to stop and that the constitutional rights of members of the Rastafari community be respected by agents of the State.”
The CGBS then disclosed its demands, foremost among which is that all charges be dropped against the entertainer. The Society outlined that: “1) All charges be dropped against Robert Lee Young, aka Changa Changa. 2) Targeting, searching, arresting and detaining Rastafari individuals must stop. 3) State and society prejudices, discrimination and harassment of members of the Rastafari community, especially by police, must stop. 4) Police stop regarding and portraying Rastafari as criminals.” The demands ended with the Society calling for the sovereign rights of members of the Rastafari community be acknowledged, as is currently the case with the United Nations.
Amidst the demands, it was also revealed to the Western Mirror that a number of Rastafarians will be showing up to court today in solidarity with their brother, Changa Changa, and will be reinforcing their demands.
When the incident was first reported, Changa Changa disclosed that, “I don’t sell drugs and I don’t pimp the tourists. The police want to make a mockery out of me. Everybody know me as a entertainer, and I’m not no wrongdoer.” He was granted bail in the sum of $30,000. Charles Sinclair Jr. is expected to represent him.