The Acacia Strain respond after Dayton, Ohio shooter wore their shirt
The country is still stunned by the news of not one but two tragic mass shootings this past weekend, and more information about the massacres in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas continue to come to light. The Dayton shooter, 24-year-old Connor Betts — who left at least nine dead including his sister, and injured at least 27 others, and was shot and killed by police — was reported to have kept a “hit list” in high school of classmates he wanted to kill, hurt, or rape. A former classmate told CNN that Betts “would talk about violence and use harsh language about women.”
Because some media and politicians like to blame these kinds of tragedies on music or video games, instead of, you know, guns, that’s exactly what Ohio television news correspondent Jim Heath did after discovering Betts was wearing an Acacia Strain sweatshirt. “Suspect in #Dayton shooting was wearing shorts with a black sweatshirt that read: ‘No heart to fear, no soul to steal.’ The slogan is believed to be from a hateful and vengeful song called Ramirez by The Acacia Strain, a metalcore band,” he tweeted.
The Acacia Strain frontman Vincent Bennett responded, saying, “What happened in Dayton is horrifying. Even more so to know that the shooter was wearing a TAS hoodie is making me sick. There is no excuse for this. Anyone who knows anything knows we don’t condone this behavior. No one has the right to take another’s life.” He also added, “We will be taking action to help the families of the victims however we can.”
Later, Bennett continued, “Music is an outlet. Music should purify. Use art as a positive outlet to your negative emotions. If you feel angry – turn to music, turn to creation. This has to stop.” Bennett also retweeted a GoFundMe that was set up for one of the victims.
UPDATE: As MetalSucks points out, Bennett also addressed the Dayton and El Paso shootings on stage at the Milwaukee stop of their tour with Judiciary, Kublai Khan, and Chamber on Sunday night (8/4). He said:
Before we start, I want to kind of say something about the things that have been happening in the past couple of days. Kinda bullshit. Anybody who knows this band knows we don’t condone anything even close to the things that have been happening in El Paso – the things that have been happening in Dayton. It’s disgusting, it’s sad and all I do this for is so you have a safe place to be. So you can have a good fucking time, so you can get your energy out, so you can leave smiling. All I ever wanted to do was make music. All I ever wanted to do was make people happy. So please, just have a good fucking time tonight. Throw everything else out the window. Smile. Make a new friend. Just have fun. Please.
You can see video of Bennett’s speech from the Milwaukee show below. The tour has tonight off but continues in Iowa City on Tuesday (8/6), and also includes an upcoming Brooklyn show at Saint Vitus.
Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor also responded to Jim Heath, writing, “No. You don’t get to fucking do that. This isn’t about a fucking t shirt. And the Acacia Strain are not a hateful or vengeful band. Blame the KILLER; not the fucking WARDROBE. You Ghoul.”
Anti-fascist black metal band Neckbeard Deathcamp appear to have been aware of Connor Betts, and they knocked the idea of calling him a “leftist,” as some have done, and also tweeted that he was “just another dime a dozen Ohio grind dude who caped progressive politics while treating women like shit.”