Beastie Boy Ad-Rock's recent call for musicians to do more to protect
women's safety at concerts received widespread approval Friday
"If people in bands are willing to stand up and say, 'We think this is
a terrible thing, we want women to be safe at our concerts and we
support a violence-free environment,' that's a wonderful thing," said
Harriet Lessel, director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual
Assault, an advocacy, education and research group.
During Thursday's MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, Ad-Rock (born Adam
Horovitz) told musicians that they need to take action in light of the
sexual assaults alleged to have taken place at the Woodstock '99
festival. State police are investigating eight assaults said to have
occurred during the July 2325 concert in Rome, N.Y.
"We can talk to the promoters and make sure that they're doing
something about the safety of all the girls and the women who come to
our shows," the rapper said. His comments came after the band accepted
the Best Hip-Hop Video award for "Intergalactic"
His words brought a solemn hush over the crowd at New York's
Metropolitan Opera House.
Ad-Rock advised that performers also should ensure concert security
staffers are educated about what sexual assault means and know how to
"The sentiment is right on the money," said Paul Wertheimer, head of
Chicago's Crowd Management Strategies consulting firm. "Artists have a
lot of power and say over audiences. And the promoters have a major
influence on the environment they create, along with venue operators
But one Woodstock '99 veteran questioned whether safety can be ensured
at concerts as big as that one.
"You have 200,000 people, how are you going to legitimately tell if
there was victimization of young females?" asked Angela Petty, a Rome
city council member who volunteered at a medical tent during the
The Beastie Boys a politically outspoken punk-rap group who were
instrumental in organizing the massive Tibetan Freedom concerts over
the past four years have not yet planned any efforts to
follow-up on the remarks, according to Steve Martin of the band's
publicity firm, Nasty Little Man.
"They're setting a tone, a stage, if you will, for change," Lessel
said. "Even if it's only symbolic, that's wonderful."
Woodstock co-promoters John Scher, Michael Lang and Ossie Kilkenny
issued a statement commending Ad-Rock.
"The reality is that sexual assaults have become such an overwhelming
problem in our society that they are now a very frightening reality at
concerts and other social gatherings," the statement read. "We stand
ready to work with any other producers, artists and other industry
leaders to ensure that it is universally understood that violence is
not acceptable and will not be tolerated at our concerts or anywhere
Backstage at the awards, R&B singer Mary J. Blige said she was touched
that a man brought up the issue.
But Lessel said, "It should be men who say it, because women say it
all the time."