Many Okayplayer readers will have noted the angry conversation unfolding online last night through today regarding publicist Heathcliff Berru of Life Or Death PR (which represents many of the artists Okayplayer covers closely, including D’Angelo, Killer Mike and members of Odd Future among others). The situation began with a series from tweets from Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors alleging sexual misconduct on Berru’s part:
And in case anyone was wondering who the ass rubbing, hair biting mother fucker was, I’m not afraid to say it-
— Amber Coffman (@Amber_Coffman) January 19, 2016
It was Heathcliff Berru, at Life or Death PR and MGMT — Amber Coffman (@Amber_Coffman) January 19, 2016
Which sparked a whole series of replies from other women (including fellow artists, publicists and other industry figures) who related having similar experiences with Berru, a story which was quickly picked up by several music outlets as other artists expressed their solidarity with Coffman, in some cases vowing not to do business with Life Or Death. As of about 5pm today, Berru officially stepped down as CEO and Life Or Death president Nick Dierl released this statement:
“Life or Death has a zero tolerance policy for the type of conduct alleged in today’s on-line postings. We take these allegations very seriously.
The men and women who make up this company do not, and will not, condone or tolerate any conduct described in the on-line postings. Life Or Death is 3 men and 3 women who are committed to promoting art and serving the clients that we’re so privileged to represent. We are taking measures to ensure that the alleged behavior did not, and will not, make its way into company operations or impact our commitment to promoting art and assisting our clients.
We are grateful to Heathcliff Berru for all the work he’s done to date and his creative vision at the company. We appreciate and support his decision to step down as CEO of Life Or Death.”
In the interest of full disclosure it is important to point out that Okayplayer not only has close ties with Life Or Death and many of their clients but also shares office space with their East Coast branch (Berru worked out of a different office on the West Coast). We hope it goes without saying that Coffman’s revelations were the first indication we had of any misconduct and we also share a zero tolerance policy in regard to sexual harassment in any form. We support the right of any woman–or anybody, for that matter–to speak up in the face of sexual harassment.
Proud & Support my friend @Amber_Coffman thank you for your bravery.
— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) January 19, 2016