In the wake of the revelation that prominent music publicist and founder of Life or Death PR & Management, Heathcliff Berru, has been accused of countless acts of sexual abuse spanning many years, the response from the music world has been swift – and severe.
Within hours of Amber Coffman (from Dirty Projectors) coming forward with her account of Berru sexually harassing her in front of 4 male friends whilst they did nothing to stop it, Coffman (unintentionally) prompted a wave of other artists, fellow publicists and more to voice their accounts of what he has allegedly done to them. Furthermore, in a matter of hours, a statement was issued from Life or Death themselves stating that they do not condone this behaviour at all and that Berru had stepped down not long after the series of tweets. However, it didn’t stop there.
Whilst tastemaker label Young Turks, and acts like Flying Lotus, Arca and Best Coast‘s Bethany Cosentino each tweeted their support for those who had spoken out, artists who were actually working with Life or Death like Kelela and DIIV were quick to publicly cut ties with the company all together. Now, none other than Killer Mike (who has become heavily involved with Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign) has publicly come forward on his Facebook page to declare he has also cut ties with the firm, and has said he stands “in solidarity with the women that have spoke out.”
“No one should have to feel afraid for speaking out when wronged in any manner or feel like no cares about them. This is not ok,” he said on his Facebook page, before stating that prior to that morning he had no knowledge of this happening.
Mike also said that, upon hearing what had happened, he called Berru immediately and ended their “biz relationship”.
“I also told him how wrong he was and how disappointed and ashamed I am of his actions and that he’s gotta take whatever’s coming. I also encouraged him to work on being a better human being,” he said.
Interestingly, and perhaps most importantly, Mike then went onto urge men to speak out when they see this behaviour happening, saying the time is over for them to say “it’s not my problem.” He also pointed out what we can see as the bleeding obvious, yet some people seem to not be able to see at all by saying, “We can’t expect ppl to improve if we’re not willing to hold them accountable and push them to be better.”
Statements like this are so important for issues such as this. It’s everyone’s problem, not just the victims. If you see something you know isn’t right, call it out. Even if you see something and you have to ask yourself whether it’s okay or not, a good rule to live by is if you have to ask, it’s probably not. Killer Mike is absolutely right when he says that we cannot expect people to improve if we don’t hold people to account, and call out the bullshit when we see it. Sexual abuse in any form is never okay in any form, in any circumstance and to any gender. Berru saw justice in it’s swiftest form this week, and we can only hope it is the start of real change within the industry as more and more eyes are opened to the struggle that women live with. Let’s also hope people heed Killer Mike’s message, as he quickly becomes one of America’s greatest current-day activists.