Public Enemy Kicked Out Flavor Flav After Disagreement Over Bernie Rally

After Sanders announced an LA rally with Public Enemy Radio, Flavor Flav's lawyers sent the candidate a cease and desist letter.
March 2, 2020, 4:01pm
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Photo by Ronen Tivony/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

With what may just be the coolest political poster of the current election cycle, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders announced on Friday that he'd be holding a rally on Sunday in Los Angeles featuring Chuck D's Public Enemy Radio, a Public Enemy offshoot that includes Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi, and the S1Ws, per Rolling Stone. Shortly after, the drama started.

Despite Sanders' impressive selection of musician endorsements, Flavor Flav is not among them, and on Friday, the law firm Ford & Friedman sent Sanders a cease and desist letter on the behalf of Flavor Flav, Public Enemy's most iconic member.

"While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit—his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy," the letter, which was obtained by Pitchfork, stated. "To be clear Flav and, by extension, the Hall of Fame hip hop act Public Enemy with which his likeness and name has become synonymous has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue."

It went on to claim on Flavor Flav's behalf that the "Public Enemy Movement" can't allow itself to be "misappropriated by political operatives in support of a fictional revolution," and it called on Sanders to clarify the endorsement as simply "Chuck D of Public Enemy," as opposed to the larger group.

On Sunday morning, Chuck D clarified his endorsement on Twitter, writing: "I dig aspects of Bern. Hate the party Bulsht. But can relate to half the issues & get forward. Use your minds & be ready to fight whoever in office." In later tweets, he wrote that when it came to Flavor Flav, "my last straw was long ago." He called out Flav's lack of support for the Harry Belafonte-founded social justice organization Sankofa when it inducted Public Enemy and the hype man's general refusal to do free benefit shows, adding that if money were involved "Flav would’ve been there front & center."

The final blows to the group came later that day. In a press release, Public Enemy Radio clarified that it would still be performing at the rally, per Rolling Stone, and it broke the news that Public Enemy and Flavor Flav would officially be parting ways. "Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav," the statement read. "We thank him for his years of service and wish him well."

After all of that dramatic back and forth, the rally went on as planned on Sunday Evening, with the LA Times reporting that Chuck D led Public Enemy Radio in performing classics including "Fight the Power," which seems pretty fitting for a Sanders event. Flavor Flav doesn't appear to have weighed in on the updated situation yet. VICE has reached out to Public Enemy and Flavor Flav's representatives for comment; we will update this post if they respond.