What Rapper Killer Mike's Support Of Sexual Assault Victims Means For The Music Industry
The music industry was rocked on Monday afternoon when well-known rock publicist Heathcliff Berru was accused of sexual assault by multiple women. Dirty Projectors singer Amber Coffman was the first to make her allegations public, claiming Berru had allegedly assaulted her "at a bar a couple years ago" on Twitter. Soon after, several other women — including Bethany Consentino from Best Coast and singer Tearist — came forward to make allegations, as well. Berru addressed the claims in a lengthy statement, below.
There have been several reports about my alleged inappropriate behavior which deserve a response. I am deeply sorry for those who I have offended by my actions and how I have made certain women feel. If I crossed the line of decency or respectfulness in situations when I was drunk and under the influence, there is no excuse of course. To be clear, while my conduct may have been inappropriate, I have never drugged anyone or engaged in that type of behavior. Nevertheless, I do not want to be the type of person who would let drugs or alcohol take command of his life and compromise how he treats people. Yet I have been this person and it's time to put a stop to all of this. Create a world with one less inappropriate man.I have been fighting a losing battle against drugs and alcohol for many years and will be checking into a rehabilitation facility in the hope that I can improve my chances of winning that fight. A year ago, I was confronted by a peer and began to try to clean up and make things right with therapy and with an eye towards quitting the addiction. The shame and sadness feels as strong now as it did then and I am making an immediate change. In no way do these allegations reflect on Life or Death PR, its staff, or anyone associated with the company. These are my issues, not theirs. I could not be more proud of the company and what it stands for. That being said I have stepped down as the CEO and relinquishing all responsibility to the current president, Nick Dierl. The company shouldn't have to deal with this distraction and I want Nick and the rest of the team to continue to do their good work while I take care of myself.
As Vice reports, Berru began "hemorrhaging clients" in the wake of the accusations, and has since resigned from his position at PR firm Life or Death. Coffman claims that men within the industry knew of Berru's alleged behavior, but continued to work with him. Now, one of Berru's former clients, rapper Killer Mike, is calling for men in the industry to end their silence and act as allies in support of those who claim to be victims of rape or sexual assault in the industry.
In a post made to his official Facebook page on Wednesday, Killer Mike announced that he had terminated his business relationship with Berru in light of Monday's claims, noting that he had no prior knowledge of the alleged incidents. "I also told him how wrong he was and how disappointed and ashamed I am of his [alleged] actions and that he's gotta take whatever's coming. I also encouraged him to work on being a better human being," he wrote.
The 40-year-old Atlanta-based rapper also expressed his support for Berru's alleged victims: "I stand 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."
Finally, he closed with a call to action: "Another point I want to make sure that comes across- Men have to be able to tell our friends and peers when they're wrong. We cannot just say, it's not my problem. We can't expect ppl to improve if we're not willing to hold them accountable and push them to be better."
Killer Mike's response to this situation is significant, not only because he supports Berru's alleged victims (remember: our culture has a long history of not believing rape victims), but also because he implores men to act as allies. Though activists have said for years that if we hope to destroy rape culture, we must begin by teaching people (often men specifically) not to rape in the first place, the infuriating notion that rape is somehow solely a "women's issue" still somehow pervades. In his Facebook post, Killer Mike argues that rape and sexual assault are everyone's problem. And that's incredibly significant.
Further, as The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber points out, the music industry in general has a dubious track record when it comes to holding men accountable for abuse (consider Jackie Fuchs of The Runaways' horrifying allegations back in July). Therefore, by dismissing Berru as his publicist, standing in solidarity with the alleged victims, and directly calling out men who allegedly knowingly "look the other way," Killer Mike has set a powerful precedent. Hopefully, other men in the industry will follow suit.