Charges are now official against the man who beat reggae star Peter Tosh’s son, Jawara McIntosh, leaving him in a coma since February. Peter Tosh (born Winston Hubert McIntosh) himself died a violent death in his home country of Jamaica, so this event, which took place in a New Jersey jail, seems doubly cruel to the McIntosh family. Jawara McIntosh, 37, also a musician, had served two months of his six-month sentence for marijuana possession when he was violently beaten into a coma by another prisoner.
The family of Peter Tosh, best known for his song “Legalize It,” has filed a civil rights suit and wants an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into exactly what happened to Jawara behind bars. The family also wants to know why they only found out about the injuries to the youngest son of Peter Tosh when the hospital called his mother, Melody Cunningham, for medical authorization for a “major surgical procedure.” Like his father, Peter Tosh, Jawara McIntosh is not only a musician but also a marijuana legalization activist, who, prior to going to jail, was living in Massachusetts with his family.
McIntosh’s sister, Niambe McIntosh, explained how little the family knew about the attack on Jawara.
“We have since, upon request, got an incident report that just didn’t really give a lot of information, but it just said there was another inmate [involved]. There was very little detail as to what happened.”
But as of yesterday, the family of Peter Tosh and Jawara McIntosh learned that another inmate has officially been charged in the attack on McIntosh that left him unresponsive in a Boston hospital. The man indicted for the attack on McIntosh is Kyrie Charon Baum of Fort Lee, New Jersey, and Baum has now been charged with aggravated assault. While the son of Peter Tosh was behind bars for the non-violent offense of marijuana possession, Baum is behind bars for robbery and gun charges.
According to prison authorities, Baum’s attack on McIntosh lasted only 10 seconds, but it has left the son of Peter Tosh unresponsive since late February. Sheriff’s Office spokesman William Schievella explains that they have moved to charge Baum and send their best wishes to the Tosh/McIntosh family.
“Although the Bergen County Jail has an extremely low violence rate I extend my thoughts to the family of Mr. McIntosh during this difficult time.”
“Tosh appears on the cover of ‘Equal Rights’ in a Che Guevara-style beret and sunglasses. It's all part of a militant persona that has led [reggae archivist] Steffens to describe [Bob] Marley as reggae's Martin Luther King and Tosh as it's Malcolm X. But Steffens also says this persona was deliberate and calculated.” – NPR, 2011 #PeterTosh #LegalizeIt #EqualRights #CheGuevara #MLK #MalcomX #MartinLutherKingJr #SteppingRazor #Reggae #BobMarley
The Tosh/McIntosh family hired attorney Jasmine Rand to sue Bergen County and to also launch an investigation into exactly what happened to Jawara while he was behind bars and help determine whether anything could have been done to prevent the tragedy.
Melody Cunningham, the wife of Peter Tosh and mother of Jawara, is understandably devastated.
“My heart cries not knowing what happened to my son. Not being able to talk to him because of the condition that he’s in. (I’m) trying to be strong for him, I have to be strong for him.”
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Like his father, Jawara McIntosh is a Rastafarian and has made marijuana legalization his life’s mission. Niambe McIntosh explains that Jawara and their father were both all about education.
“A lot of his music is inspired by the Rastafarian culture, by getting the truth out there. My father was a human rights activist and all of his music was about uplifting and educating people about some of the conditions out there. But also my father was an activist for the legalization of cannabis. That’s also another avenue that my brother Jawara kind of walked into and upheld. He was also an advocate for the legalization of cannabis.”
The Tosh/McIntosh family is hopeful that Jawara McIntosh will recover, but his prognosis is currently unclear.
Do you want to send your thoughts and prayers to the family of Peter Tosh and Jawara McIntosh? Please leave your comments below.
[Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]