Chicago multi-instrumentalist Nnamdi Ogbannaya is bailing on his current gig opening for PWR BTTM after abuse allegations surfaced about the band’s singer Ben Hopkins. In a Facebok post that went up Thursday night (May 11), Ogbonnaya wrote, “Hey y’all. I’ll no longer be opening up for PWR BTTM on this upcoming tour. It F–king sucks for everyone involved and in light of the allegations I can’t comfortably continue.”
On Thursday afternoon, the queer punk band released a statement addressing the allegations against 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.
In announcing his decision to leave the tour, Ogbonnaya added, “I hope that truth is found/admitted and I’m incredibly disappointed at this type of s–t continuously happening. I love all of you.” Click here to read Ogbonnaya’s full post.
The fall-out from the allegations resulted in PWR BTTM canceling a planned free release show on Friday (May 12) at Rough Trade in Brooklyn in celebration of their new album, Pageant. It has also led to another one of the booked opening acts on PWR BTTM’s upcoming tour dropping off, as New York rockers T-Rextasy announced in a series of tweets on Thursday that they would be unable to support the group.
“Hi folks,” they tweeted. “We will speak more later about our next steps, but want to address the accusations against PWR BTTM as soon as possible. We wish we could say these allegations come as a complete surprise, but that is not the truth. Around the time we agreed to a July tour with PWR BTTM, someone came to us privately and warned us that they had these experiences w Ben. They asked us not to share them publicly.”
2)We wish we could say these allegations come as a complete surprise, but that is not the truth. Around the time we agreed to a July tour w
— T-Rextasy (@trextasynyc) May 11, 2017
At the time, they wrote, they felt they should continue with the tour because they didn’t want to out the person who came to them in confidence and worried that leaving the outing with no excuse would damage their professional relationships, as well as personal ties with PWR BTTM.
“This in no way excuses us from culpability,” they continued. “We were scared and confused but we were also selfish. We made a mistake supporting this band. We put our career above the safety of fans who have trusted us and supported us and there’s no way for us to remedy that. We feel that we may not be the only people in this community to have heard these allegations before today.” They ended by asking their peers to be “honest in regards to their complicity in this situation” and offered up an email address for people who want to talk.
In a statement to fans about the allegations, PWR BTTM wrote:
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… 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.