On Thursday afternoon (May 11), the queer punk band PWR BTTM released a statement addressing allegations of abuse by lead singer Ben Hopkins that had begun to circulate among DIY and LGBTQ internet communities, including on Twitter and Reddit.
In the statement, which is attributed to Hopkins and fellow band member Liv Bruce, PWR BTTM say they have set up an email address in which any person who says they are a victim of abuse by Hopkins can register their allegation, at which point it will be handled by a “mediator” that the band is still currently seeking.
The statement reads:
Ben and Liv here. We want to respond to some very serious allegations that have been made against Ben. The allegations come as a surprise, but we are trying to address them with openness and accountability. With respect to the image included with these allegations, Ben previously addressed this matter on their/the band’s Twitter in January (https://ibb.co/dsNRRQ).
Unfortunately we live in a culture which trivializes and normalizes violations of consent. There are people who have violated others’ consent and do not know. Ben has not been contacted by any survivor(s) of abuse. These allegations are shocking to us and we take them very seriously. Further, the alleged behavior is not representative of who Ben is and the manner in which they try to conduct themselves.
To address this matter head on, we have set up an email address through which a survivor or someone working directly with a survivor can discuss the allegations being expressed on social media: firstname.lastname@example.org We are currently looking for a mediator with the necessary qualifications. This will be the only person with access to the account. Ben does not have access to the account, for two reasons: 1) because we acknowledge that certain individuals will not feel comfortable establishing a direct communication link between themselves and Ben, and 2) to protect Ben in the event that a malicious party attempts to use the address for anything but its intended purpose.
Our primary goal here is to ensure that a survivor of abuse has a voice, that their story should be heard and that people who cross the line should be held accountable. What this means for the band, our album, our fans and our upcoming tours is, as of yet, unclear. Music is everything to us, but we feel strongly that this matter needs to be addressed first. Updates forthcoming.
The allegations first began to surface Wednesday night and Thursday morning, via a tweet that reproduced a post in a private Facebook group called DIY Chicago. That tweet — which contains the post, attributed to a user named Kitty Cordero-Kolin — can be read below. It alleges that Hopkins has in recent months “initiate[d] inappropriate sexual contact with people despite several ‘nos’ and without warning or consent,” and also resurfaces an old photo of Hopkins posing next to a swastika drawn in sand, for which, as the above apology alludes, Hopkins apologized on Twitter in December.
friendly reminder to stop letting PWR BTTM use their status as “allies” to do whatever tf they want pic.twitter.com/ESbXur7zpx
— mattfromcoastlines (@_mcampnh) May 11, 2017
Later Thursday morning, Cordero-Kolin published further anonymized allegations against Hopkins:
— kitty (@hentittiez) May 11, 2017
— kitty (@hentittiez) May 11, 2017
Prior to the above tweets, SPIN spoke with Cordero-Kolin on the phone. She explained that she became an impromptu clearinghouse of sorts for complaints against Hopkins after commenting “I’ll buy your album once you stop harassing queer women” on a Facebook post promoting PWR BTTM’s new album Pageant, which is out Friday. Cordero-Kolin says she was then inundated with messages from strangers, some or all of which she then anonymized and publicized on Twitter.
Though neither Hopkins nor the band have yet directly countered any specific allegations, the characterization of Hopkins as presented by Cordero-Kolin runs counter to the band’s image, which has placed them at the forefront of the push for queer and trans recognition within indie music at-large, as well as the establishment and sanctity of queer safe spaces within that scene.
This article was originally published by Spin.