Eighteen months after he was released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, Foota Hype’s fans are celebrating the absence of the tracking device which was slapped around his ankle, in April 2020, following several months in lockup in a Florida detention centre.
On Wednesday the veteran Dancehall selector and producer shared photo images and videos of himself getting a pedicure at a spa, but without the black ankle monitor, which ICE requires some people to wear as an alternative to detention.
“Affi take care a di plank dem eno @diamondsnailbar give thanks,” he wrote.
Foota had been taken into custody in December 2019, at the end of Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock Cruise, after the vessel docked in Florida. Upon his release in April 2020, on humanitarian grounds due to him being afflicted with diabetes and what he said was a clean police record, he had not shied away from wearing shorts and showing off the tracking device over the many months.
Some of his fans paid attention to the size of his feet, but there were others who recognised that the huge monitoring device was noticeably absent.
“Dem Free the boss. No more shackle. Freedom is a must,” ramalekralc wrote in response while leroyfullness added: “Congrats fam you free up,”
“I can’t see the the Anklet it gone like di wind
In mid-May 2020, Foota Hype bragged to his fans that even though he was still unable to leave the United States, he was still able to roam the country freely, in spite of the tracking device which was placed around his ankle to trace his movements, prior to his conditional release.
Back then, when one curious fan had asked Foota how far he was able to travel with the device on his foot, he had boldly replied: “Anyweh di bookings deh!”
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 was 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 had explained.
The Cassava Piece native said when he was apprehended, authorities had not asked to see his travel documents, but instead kept quizzing him about whether he was “carrying ganja in his suitcase”. He said that in response, he told them they had the wrong person as he neither smokes nor drinks alcohol.
“They handcuffed me and took me to the airport and placed 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,” Foota had explained.
He had also pointed out that the reason he spent an extensive time in detention was due to the absence of the judge on the date of what had been scheduled to be his last hearing. The Cassava Piece native had said all his witnesses, as well as his attorney had attended court that day, but were disappointed after he was made to stay an additional 2 ½ months in state custody.
“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 had explained.
During his interview with Winford, Foota also expressed dismay that 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 his Dancehall compatriots.
“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 had lamented.