Despite what society might think of us, not all punks are criminals. I don’t need to be the one to tell you that most mohawk flaunting, leather jacket wearing so called hooligans are really quite kindhearted, law abiding citizens underneath their tattooed and pierced exteriors. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’ve all managed to steer clear of trouble. From noble to downright senseless, below is a list of 5 of punk rock’s more notorious run ins with johnny law man.
1. Harley Flanagan of the Cro-Mags (Felony Assault, 4 Counts)
Rocker Harley Flanagan came out of the womb with a desire to create. At age nine he published a book of poetry, at twelve he became the young drummer of The Stimulators and during the eighties he graduated to bassist, future singer and co-founder of the hardcore band the Cro-Mags. He apparently is also known for stabbing his friends in the back. Well, stabbing them in the front if you want to get technical.
Several times during their career, the Cro-Mags disbanded for various reasons. During one of these hiatuses, Harley Flanagan was apparently kicked out of the band due to his ongoing feuds with fellow member Mitchell Mayhew. Apparently Flanagan did not take this rejection lightly and on a friday night in 2012, the scorned musician decided to take his revenge. According to reports, Flanagan arrived at a New York club where the reformed Cro-Mags and Sick of it All were set to perform and it was there where he went on a bit of a rampage. After entering the VIP area he allegedly attacked the Cro-Mags current bassist Michael Couls by slashing him in the torso with a knife. When fellow band member William Berario came to Couls’ defense, Flanagan allegedly attempted to bite him in the face before slashing him above the left eye. He then returned to attacking Couls, continuously stabbing him in the arm. He was finally detained by police.
After police stabilized Flanagan, they shut down the venue and the event was canceled. Both Couls and Berario were taken to a local hospital in stable condition with the stab wounds being non-life threatening. Flanagan reportedly broke a leg while being taken into custody, was held on $25,000 bail and charged with four counts of assault. His story remains that the altercation began in self-defense, alleging that he was jumped first by a group of men which lead to the ensuing violence. Later a judge would dismiss the case and drop the charges on the grounds that witnesses failed to materialize and soon the case evaporated. Not going down without a fight, Couls and Berario reportedly attempted suing Flanagan, a fact which frontman John Joseph later dismissed as untrue.
2. Tony Lovato of Mest (Criminal Homicide)
In 2007, Mest front man Tony Lovato had broken up with his girlfriend who naturally went on to date someone else, in particular a Mr. Wayne Hughes. Apparently Tony didn’t like this and the two got in numerous altercations over the passing months. The final incident occurred in a parking garage in Studio City, CA where the two got into yet another fight at which point Tony really MEST up and brandished a knife. After the fight was over, Lavato called the police. When officers arrived, they found Wayne Hughes dead due to multiple stab wounds in his chest, courtesy of Mr. Lovato.
While Tony was being held on one million dollars bail, the district attorney mulled over the evidence relating to the incident. Due to the fact that Hughes reportedly started the fight and that he had invited Tony to a “secluded” area, the attorney decided that Tony had indeed acted in self defense. All charges were dropped and that was that. Mest was broken up at the time of the incident and after all was said and done, Tony started the band A Permanent Holiday which has since broken up. This year, Mest reunited and is releasing a new album this year.
3. Pussy Riot (Hooliganism)
The Moscow based feminist punk act Pussy Riot was formed when Russian leader Vladimir Putin decided to run for President and the members wanted a means to protest. In the years since they have actively rocked their hearts out while continuing to expound on the things that they believe in including woman’s rights, political freedom and reforming Russia’s justice system. The good ol’ protesting times came to an end in February of 2012 when the group filmed themselves performing a punk prayer titled ‘Holy Shit’ from the alter of Christ the Savior where they were abruptly arrested for hooliganism.
While seven members of the band were arrested, only three members (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich) were put on trial. Be glad that you live in the good old U.S. of A because due to their protesting, which we call freedom of speech, the three feminist punks soon faced up to seven years in jail. They pleaded not guilty, citing that their protest was not meant to be offensive, however, the prosecutors believed that they were trying to “incite religious hatred.” In the end, they lost their legal battle and all three were sentenced to two years in prison. In a show of support protests broke out all over the globe but unfortunately it hasn’t been enough to persuade the Russian legal system to free the ladies.
4. Joost De Graaf of Dutch Oi band, Discipline (Murder, Arson)
The oi band Discipline, self-described as a “street rock ‘n’ roll band” from Eindhoven, Holland formed in 1990. The original members consisted of Carlo Geerlings on bass, Erik Wouters on guitar, Joost Strijbos on drums and of course, front man Joost De Graaf. Together they signed on to Germany’s Lost & Found Records and immediately started pumping out music, accruing over 19 albums, EPs and 7-inches over the years. Unfortunately all good things must end. On July 24th, 2010, Joost De Graff was arrested for allegedly murdering his wife (who he has two children with) before burning down their house. Police responded and found De Graff unconscious in the home where he suffered only minor injuries.
Apparently Graaf’s plan was to take his own life in the blaze but since that didn’t happen it was time for Graff to receive the discipline he deserved. During his trial, it was revealed that Graaf murdered his wife in one of the most disturbing ways possible, by bludgeoning her with the claw end of a hammer. For reasons beyond me, the judge lowered his charge from murder to manslaughter. In America, a crime like this would almost always land a man in prison for life. In Holland however, sentences seem to be a bit lighter and Joost De Graff was given a fifteen year sentence.
If there’s any good news to this story, its that the two children were not home at the time and remained safe. During the time of the murder, Dicipline was in the middle of recording their new album titled Angels and Demons which obviously never came to fruition. According to their wikipedia page, the band has since enlisted new singer Merijn Verhees and have resumed touring.
5. Tyler Oleson of Modern Life Is War (Alluding Criminal Mischief, Aggravated Assault)
For those not in the know, Modern Life is War is a hardcore band, originally from Iowa who during their ongoing run have released a few albums and became fan favorites in the hardcore scene. But sometimes rocking out with your friends is not enough excitement and some people like Modern Life is War’s drummer Tyler Oleson decide to think outside the box when looking for a fun night.
On a Saturday night in September of 2013, Oleson, apparently blitzed out of his mind, got behind the wheel and took a drive downtown. During his cruise he came across a police officer driving his squad car and, according to the Des Moines Register, gave the cop the bird before attempting to run the officer off the road. The officer got behind Oleson’s car to try to stop him. That’s when the drummer slammed on his breaks before speeding off and starting a short two mile car chase. The entire incident ended after a collision caused by Oleson, a brief foot chase, and a good old fashion tasering.
The madman finally caught, Oleson was brought into custody where he was charged with the aforementioned alluding of criminal mischief, aggravated assault and DWI but as the investigation continues, other charges may be filed. After the arrest, the band released a statement saying in general that no matter what, Oleson is their friend first and foremost and that they are there to support him. Modern Life is War, which reunited last year after a four year hiatus released their newest effort, Fever Hunting on September 9th of this year, just days after Oleson’s joy ride.