Former Cro-Mags Rocker Still in Limbo Three Months After Alleged Stabbing
MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — More than three months after veteran rocker Harley Flanagan was arrested for allegedly stabbing and biting two members of his former band, the Cro-Mags, his case has yet to go before a grand jury, his lawyer said Thursday.
“I honestly believe their case is falling apart,” said Flanagan, the Cro-Mags' ex-bassist, after a brief hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Flanagan, 45, a founder of the influential hardcore band, has said he was only acting in self defense after his ex-band mates attacked him during a brawl at a Webster Hall gig in July.
“You can speculate to no end about what’s going on,“ said Sean Parmenter, Flanagan’s lawyer. “I think most of their [the District Attorney’s] witnesses are not cooperating.”
Those in the hardcore punk scene don’t want to talk to cops, Parmenter said.
“It’s antithetical to a lot of strongly held beliefs,” he said.
Prosecutors have accused Flanagan, who's had an admittedly rocky relationship with his former band members, of sneaking into a dressing room before the Cro-Mags were set to perform at the CBGB Festival and assaulting Michael Couls, the band's current bassist, 33, and William Berario, 35, another band member.
Current Cro-Mags lead singer John "Bloodclot" Joseph said in a statement that no one, including himself, will speak to police.
“No one snitched — I refused to talk to the cops,” he said in a released statement, adding: “We have a way of dealing with matters — it’s called ‘street justice.’ You pull a knife, I pull a pipe and smash your face in. And I did have a pipe on stage, by the way, knowing this dude [Flanagan] can’t really fight and always has a weapon.”
According to police, Flanagan slashed Couls in the torso after sneaking into the backstage area. When Berario tried to put a stop to the assault, Flanagan allegedly turned on him and bit him in the face, before stabbing him above the left eye.
Then Flanagan went back to attacking Couls, stabbing him in the arm, police said.
Prosecutors did not immediately return requests for comment.
Flanagan says he went to the show with the intention of making amends with Joseph. He claims he was invited into the backstage area by Cro-Mags, then jumped by “seven or eight guys — big guys — trying to kick me into a bloody mess and leave me for dead.”
“Why would I ever start trouble in a room filled with big, hostile guys?” said Flanagan, a father of two young boys who now works as a Jiu-Jitsu instructor in Queens. “I’m not a criminal. I came to make peace.”
The incident has shed a sliver of light on a hardcore punk community that has largely shied away from public scrutiny.
Flanagan claims the feud was partly fueled by animosity between him and members of the hardcore punk community known as DMS — which has alternately been called Doc Martin Skinheads, among other names — with whom he's had a long-standing feud.
"What DMS does is go to shows, beat people up, intimidate people," Flanagan has said. "They're bullies and thugs."
In 2008, Flanagan released a song called Lower East Side O.G. that included the lyrics, “Don’t mean s---,” — which DMS members interpreted as a direct dig at them, he said. Flanagan denies any connection.
In the video, one of the band members raps: “Harley is a straight up little bitch man. Kill you dead, Mr. Flanagan.”
"I've always been disgusted by what they do," Flanagan said. "I've stood up to that and it put a target on my head."
But Cro-Mags' lead singer, John Joseph, paints a different picture of DMS, which he said has become a go-to group for hard core punk band security.
“DMS are not thugs, so for the new jacks who weren’t even around long enough to remember their past and said that — keep your mouths shut,” he said in a statement. “For the last 10 years plus, they have been security at shows stopping violence.”
Joseph denied Flanagan was invited backstage, and added that Flanagan brought a knife to the dressing room.
“Bottom line, [Flanagan] was told not to come, he showed up right before we went on, he made threats and then he stabbed people. End of story,” he said in the statement.
Flanagan says he's confident that if he is eventually indicted, he'll be able to win the case.
"I'm the victim, and I think any judge or jury will agree with that."
Flanagan is due back in court on Dec. 5.