Public Enemy Fires Flavor Flav over Bernie Sanders Rally

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 06: Rappers Chuck D (L) and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy perform at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Hip-hop group Public Enemy announced on Sunday that after 35 years of service, they would be permanently “moving forward” without rapper Flavor Flav following his decision to send a cease-and-desist letter to presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders over fellow rapper Chuck D’s concert at a Sanders campaign’s rally in Los Angeles on Sunday.

“Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav,” the group said in a brief statement Sunday. “We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”

The dismissal of Flavor Flav, whose real name is William Jonathan Drayton Jr., comes just days after he sent a cease and desist letter to Sanders’s campaign accusing them of using his “unauthorized likeness, image and trademarked clock” to promote Sunday night’s rally at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit — his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy,” Flav’s lawyer Matthew Friedman wrote in his letter.

He continued:

The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is. There is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.

[Our client] has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle. The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading. “It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture.

In a handwritten note at the bottom of the letter, Flavor Flav pleaded with Sanders, writing: “Hey Bernie, don’t do this.”

After receiving the letter but before announcing his dismissal, Chuck D warned that Flav had a year to “get his act together” or face exclusion.

“Flavor chooses to dance for his money and not do benevolent work like this,” Chuck D said. “He has a year to get his act together and get himself straight or he’s out.”

Following his dismissal, a lawyer for Chuck D argued his client remained the sole owner of the Public Enemy trademark.

“From a legal standpoint, Chuck D could perform as Public Enemy if he ever wanted to; he is the sole owner of the Public Enemy trademark,” his lawyer said. “He originally drew the logo himself in the mid-80s, is also the creative visionary and the group’s primary songwriter, having written Flavor’s most memorable lines.”

Taking to Twitter on Sunday, the group’s frontman was claimed that the controversy over Sanders was not the only reason he was dismissed, accusing him of only being interested in money.

One of his examples included refusal to perform for free for the grassroots social justice organization Sankofa, which describes its mission as campaigning on “issues of injustice that disproportionately affect the disenfranchised, the oppressed, and the underserved.”

“My last straw was long ago,” he wrote. “It’s not about BERNIE with Flav… he don’t know the difference between [former NFL running back] Barry Sanders or Bernie Sanders. He don’t know either. FLAV refused to support Sankofa after Harry Belafonte inducted us. He don’t do that.”

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