Anti-Flag Breaks Up After Sexual Assault Allegations Against Singer

The punk rock band Anti-Flag has announced its breakup after 35 years of making music together. The band’s decision came amid sexual assault allegations against its lead singer Justin Sane, who denied the claims and called them “categorically false”.


Anti-Flag Disbands Without Explanation

Anti-Flag, known for its politically-charged lyrics and activism, surprised its fans by posting a brief message on its Patreon page on July 19th, 2023. The message read: “Anti-Flag has disbanded, the Patreon has been switched into a mode where it will no longer charge the monthly fee. I will begin to process refunds to all patrons in the coming weeks. Once all refunds are processed the Patreon page will also be removed.”

The band did not give any reason for its sudden split, and also deleted its official website and social media accounts. The band’s frontman Justin Sane, whose real name is Justin Greever, also deleted his Twitter page. The band was in the middle of a European tour with the Dropkick Murphys, and had a show scheduled in Prague the next day.

Sexual Assault Allegations Against Justin Sane

The news of the band’s breakup came shortly after a woman named Kristina Sarhadi accused a singer of a political punk band of raping her in 2019. Sarhadi shared her story on the “Enough” podcast, which is dedicated to sexual assault in the music industry, on July 19th, 2023. She did not name the singer who assaulted her, but gave details that matched with Anti-Flag’s history.

Sarhadi said she met the singer at one of his shows in Brooklyn and exchanged numbers. Weeks later, they met again at a film festival near her hometown and went to a party together. After the party, the singer invited her to his room to play a song he had recorded with Billy Bragg, a British singer-songwriter and activist. Sarhadi said that as soon as they entered the room, the singer tackled her onto the bed, choked her, and raped her.

Sarhadi said she tried to fight back and scream, but the singer was too strong and threatened to kill her. She said she felt “trapped” and “terrified” and thought she was going to die. She said she managed to escape after the singer fell asleep, and reported the incident to the police the next day. She said the police did not take her seriously and told her that she had consented to the sexual encounter.

Justin Sane Denies the Claims and Defends Himself

On July 27th, 2023, Justin Sane broke his silence and posted a statement on his Instagram account, addressing the sexual assault allegations and the band’s breakup. He said that the stories told about him were “categorically false” and that he had never engaged in a sexual relationship that was not consensual. He said he had never been approached by a woman after a sexual encounter and been told he had violated her in any way.

Sane said he was “devastated” by the accusations and that they were “the antithesis of what I believe and how I have conducted myself throughout my life”. He said he had devoted his entire adult life to standing up for the victims of sexual violence and abuse, as well as those suffering oppression and inequality. He said he was “deeply hurt” by the damage done to his reputation and his band.

Sane’s statement also included a group statement from his bandmates Pat Thetic, Chris Head, and Chris Barker, who said they were “shocked, confused, saddened and absolutely heartbroken” by the allegations. They said they felt the only immediate option was to disband, as a core tenet of Anti-Flag was to listen to and believe all survivors of sexual violence and abuse. They said they had never seen Sane be violent or aggressive toward women, and wished healing to all survivors.

Anti-Flag’s Legacy and Fans’ Reactions

Anti-Flag was formed by Sane and Thetic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1988, and later joined by Head and Barker. The band released its debut album “Die for the Government” in 1996 and went on to release 12 more albums, including “Underground Network” in 2001, “For Blood and Empire” in 2006, and “Lies They Tell Our Children” in 2023. The band was known for its outspoken criticism of war, capitalism, racism, sexism, and other social issues, and its support for various causes such as animal rights, environmentalism, and anti-fascism.

The band’s breakup has left its fans shocked and divided, with some expressing their support and solidarity for Sane and the band, and others condemning them and siding with Sarhadi and other survivors. Some fans have also expressed their disappointment and anger at the band for not giving a proper explanation or apology for their sudden departure, and for leaving them in the dark.

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