Public Enemy’s Chuck D is set to perform at Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ rally in Los Angeles today (March 1). However, Sanders clearly does not have support from the legendary hip hop group in its entirety.
Public Enemy co-founder Flavor Flav has reportedly filed a cease and desist order against Sanders for his use of the group’s name and likeness in a promotional flyer that circulated social media last week. According to Spin, Flav accuses Sanders of promoting a “false narrative,” by suggesting that the whole group supported his candidacy and would be performing at the rally, when only Chuck D has endorsed him and will be the lone performer.
“We have become aware that Flavor’s bandmate and Public Enemy co-creator, Chuck D, has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for President and plans to perform at an upcoming Sanders Rally,” Flav’s cease and desist letter reads. “While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit – his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy. 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.”
“Sanders has promised to ‘Fight the Power’ with hip hop icons Public Enemy – but this Rap Icon will not be performing at the Sanders Rally,” the letter continues. “To be clear Flav and, by extension, the Hall of Fame hip hop act Public Enemy with which his likeness and name have become synonymous has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue. The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading.”
Flav also accused the Vermont senator of misappropriating the group’s cause and image— something the Public Enemy has fought against since its birth.
“This is hardly the first time the establishment has tried to define Flav and Public Enemy. They claimed he and his bandmates were drug dealing gang members – they weren’t. They were artists using their music and platform to fight injustice, advocate for their community and strive for truth and transparency against an establishment which wanted to keep people in the dark,” the letter reads. “... Flavor Flav and Public Enemy didn’t just talk about revolution – they started one that brought about real lasting systemic change. The Public Enemy Movement cannot allow its cultural identity, likeness and life’s work to be misappropriated by political operatives in support of a fictional revolution...”
“It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture. Sanders claims to represent everyman not the man yet his grossly irresponsible handling of Chuck’s endorsement threatens to divide Public Enemy and, in so doing, forever silence one of our nation’s loudest and most enduring voices for social change,” Flav continues. “... If Bernie allows this deceptive marketing to continue without clearly correcting the messaging to reflect the true nature of this endorsement... Senator Sanders will himself have played a part in whitewashing a key chapter in American History.”
“Bernie, his name is Flavor Flav and he does NOT approve your message!” the letter concludes.
So far, neither Chuck D nor Sanders have responded to the statement. The rally is set to take place today (March 1) at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 5 p.m.