Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe was arrested in Prague late last month on allegations of manslaughter. Less than one week later, he tried to post bail. It was rejected. Today, two weeks after that, he’s still in custody, all in spite of the fact that he’s yet to be formally charged with a single crime.
By now you’ve probably heard the story: Lamb of God is playing a show last year in the Czech Republic when a fan repeatedly attempts to jump on stage. At one point, it’s alleged that he was violently thrown off, over the barricade and into the crowd, by either Blythe or the venue’s security personnel. The patron was injured and eventually died from head injuries allegedly obtained at the concert.
Within days of the arrest, the Gauntlet (whose reporting on the situation has been stellar, by the way) obtained video of the alleged incident which showed the kid in question being launched off stage. Blythe was involved, as is undeniable, but it’s shown more clearly to be security that tossed the boy into the crowd. He’s seen falling, backwards, and nobody looks to have caught him.
We know this. We knew this within days of Blythe’s arrest, and still nothing has happened. There’s no precedent for what’s happening: the leader of a multi-Grammy nominated band behind bars in a foreign country for nearly a month, with little contact to the outside world, his bail rejected, no help from his government, virtually no reporting outside niche media and he still hasn’t been charged with a crime. Luckily, he’s not been ignored: the metal community has bonded behind Blythe. They’ve started a petition that, if it reaches 25,000 signatures, will be seen by US President Obama. It’s at just over 17,000 at time of publishing. They’ve contributed to a fund to help pay his no doubt astronomical legal bills (which have no doubt doubled beyond a reasonable amount with his extended stint in custody). When Blythe’s bail was denied, it was also doubled. How’s that for fair?
Most importantly, they’ve done what the rest of the world hasn’t—they’ve paid attention.
Maybe Randy Blythe is guilty, though the evidence so far suggests otherwise. But if he’s guilty, charge him. If he’s not, charge him. And if you’re not going to charge him, release him. When you go to a concert, there’s an implication that you won’t cross the barricade. If you do, that’s trespassing. The legal system should work similarly—that if you’ve been arrested, you’ll be charged. If not, you’ll be released. Throughout this case, neither seem to have been upheld.
Metal Insider has translated Blythe’s first interview since being put in custody, during which he commends the Czech police on their professionalism but admits he doesn’t understand why he’s still in jail. Surprisingly, he outlines his possible plans if he ends up on an extended stay. He’s writing behind bars. He’s learning a new language. Maybe he’ll get to see where Kafka went.
Throughout it all, Randy Blythe has remained calm. But then, what choice does he have?
It’s our job to be outraged. Not necessarily because we like Lamb of God, or because Randy Blythe is such a notoriously stand-up dude. We’re supposed to be mad because holding someone for a crime you’ve not yet charged them with is inhumane.
Randy Blythe has a hearing set for July 19th. Here’s hoping something comes of it.