PHILADELPHIA POLICE GET $2.2 MILLION JUDGEMENT AGAINST ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES RECORDS, JELLO BIAFRA, AND THE CRUCIFUCKS OVER DEAD COP PHOTO

In 1992, The Crucifucks released an album titled "Our Will Be Done." It was released through Alternative Tentacles, the label owned by legendary punk-rocker Jello Biafra. On the cover of "Our Will be Done" was a photo of a supposedly dead cop lying by his cruiser. The cop in the photo was Philadelphia officer James Whalen. The photo was taken and used in a poster to raise public awareness during a 1986 union contract dispute between the city and the police union.

Over a year ago, a suit was filed by Officer Whalen and the Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police against The Crucifucks, Alternative Tentacles Records and Jello Biafra alleging "unauthorized use" of the photo. On April 4, 1997 a federal judge in Philadelphia awarded a $2.2 million default judgement to Whalen and the FOP. Even though last July, this same judge found that the same claim against co-defendants, Borders Books and Music lacked merit, apparently found merit in making judgement against the band and it's label. FOP spokesperson Dale Wilcox condemned the band and it's label claiming it promoted "anti-police sentiment." FOP spokesman, Richard Costello said regarding the suit, "I'm hoping for every last dime these people have, up to the penny in their loafers, if we can get it."

A press release from Alternative Tentacles states: "We at Alternative Tentacles Records are disappointed that the Federal Court has entered a default judgment against Alternative Tentacles Records, Jello Biafra and The Crucifucks." The press release from the label, whose long-standing motto is "Giving Art a Bad Name Since 1979," notes that the same Judge who ruled against AT in this case dismissed the FOP claims as without merit in the case of co-defendant Borders Books and Music last July.

The release also clarifies that "a default judgment is not a judgment based on the merits of a case. It is the result of a statutory procedure requiring proper notice to the defendants before a default can be taken. The Fraternal Order of Police took the default of Alternative Tentacles Records and Jello Biafra even though their attorneys knowingly failed to properly serve the required notice of their intention to take the default. This case has not gone to trial." Finally, the release says that AT and Biafra have filed a motion in Federal Court seeking to set aside the default judgment.

We at Rock Out Censorship feel that this is a clear case of the judge awarding damages based on the content of the Crucifucks album in an effort to send a message to artist's that dare put out an album expressing "anti-police sentiment". This is clearly a form of economic censorship being imposed by government in an attempt to put Alternative Tentacles and the Crucifucks out of business for the "crime" of expressing themselves in a way that challenges the authority of the system.

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