3 arrested in Denver direct action against The Casualties
*trigger warning* sexual assault discussed, rape discussed
An Open Letter to the Punk and Radical scenes,
On November 5, 2013 a woman named Beth wrote a blog post for putyourdamnpantson.com describing her experience of sexual assault by Jorge Herrera of the popular punk band The Casualties. Since then many other folks have come forward with their own accounts of his shitty behavior.
I've noticed a number of reactions to these revelations. Some people immediately believe her, and stand with her in solidarity. Some ask where's the proof. Some decry her words as a cry for attention. Some ask why she didn't report it to the police. Some blame her for her experience with Jorge.
It's been very troubling to me.
I decided to protest their show when they came to Denver, CO. Not only to try to get people to not support this band with a known assaulter for a lead singer, but to address the rampant nature of rape culture both within the punk scene, and society at large. Our tactic was a two pronged approach where some of us would show up at the space earlier on in the day to try to talk to the promoter, and stop the Casualties from loading in, and some other folks later in the evening would show up to protest and talk to passers by and folks going to the show. We knew before we went that Marquis Theater had 2 entrances that bands could possibly be loading in from. Ultimately the decision was left up to me, and I decided that if we remained mobile we could just go to whatever door folks started to load stuff toward. We moved around to the front to see if anyone had arrived yet and saw a van. We went around front and I positioned myself in front of the venue doors while an older punk dude (who turned out to be in Negative Approach) milled around. The dude who decided to film this part of the action handed him a flyer citing statistics and the guy started flipping out on us. "Oh you guys are here for this bullshit?! You're so gullible, you'll believe anything you read on facebook. Just because ONE girl comes forward and says she was assaulted you believe her?!" About then is when he started filming the conversation that you can see here.
The punk scene and especially radical communities are to be held to a higher standard than society at large. By reenforcing the status quo, of silence, victim blaming, misogynist behavior/language, and apologism we aren't moving toward anti-oppression but away from it. And when punks advocate calling the police or involving the courts as a means to prove assault happened it just blows my mind.
When someone gets called out for rape or sexual assault it is not a comfortable thing. We can't just choose to not take a side. There is no such thing as neutrality in this situation. We have to choose what side we're on. I chose the survivor's side. I believe that a survivor's words are proof enough. People can never know the truth of a moment if they were not there to observe the moment. It's just an impossibility. So you have to choose.
We in american culture, have been raised to be severely fucked up individuals. Men are raised to be tough, to have anything they want, to view women as objects for fucking, and to not see their own privilege. We all need to look at ourselves and see the ways in which we are what we have been raised to be. As a white person how am I perpetuating white supremacy? As a man how am I perpetuating misogyny? As someone with white dreads or a mohawk how am I perpetuating cultural appropriation? Does my behavior and do my words reflect what I say/think I am, or am I just doing what everyone else does and calling it something different? As men and women how are we perpetuating rape culture? People need to see how they are the rapist, and change the things that make them that way. The rapist isn't just the person in the alleyway with a knife and a mask. They're the person standing next to you at the bar who keeps getting that other person drunk so they can take them home. They're the person that has problems with asking for consent before touching people. They may even be you.
I feel that if we truly want society to change, we need to change as well. We need to recognize the ways we're fucked up, and see how the folks around us are fucked up too, and call it out when we see it. If people aren't willing to see the flaws in themselves they should be made uncomfortable until they're willing to change. We shouldn't have the option to be able to choose to be assholes without repercussion from our peers and our communities. Also, those of us willing to call it out shouldn't have to be nice about it. We're fucking pissed that the rest of you don't do shit, unless it makes you feel good. The amount of times I've been told that someone is just trying to have a good time, and they're not trying to be political right now is fucking sick to me. You can't choose to not be political when every single thing you do, right down to your very existence is political.
As a radical I have to stress the importance of social insurrection. Without this, things stay the same, and I for one just can't sit with that and not try to make things different. If we don't force uncomfortability upon people who maintain a fucked up status quo nothing will ever change.
To the bands who are playing shows with the Casualties right now: You are directly supporting someone who has been over and over again accused of sexual assault and sketchy behavior toward women. Instead of worrying about money, contracts, and your jobs, why not have a larger concern for women's bodies and your political ideals. Saying one thing and doing another makes you an enemy. I'm asking you to take a fucking stand. I long for a day when being principled means as much as money, having a good time, or doing your job.
In solidarity with survivors and other people willing to do things to affect change,