08/17/05: Jello Biafra and Others Rock for West Memphis Three August 04, 2005: San Francisco, Calif. On July 23, 2005 Jello Biafra and other artists came together at The Swedish American Music Hall in San Francisco for the local version of West Memphis Three World Awareness Day, organized by Anje/Vele Entertainment and musician Chuck Prophet. The event raised more than $6,000 for the defense fund of Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin. The three Arkansas men, dubbed the West Memphis Three, were convicted of the 1993 murders of three elementary school children. Since their trials were chronicled by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky in the HBO documentary "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills", a groundswell of support has formed around the Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin support that includes a wide array of artists such as Metallica, Henry Rollins, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Tom Waits, Winona Ryder, South Park creator Trey Parker, and Art Alexakis of Everclear.
Jello Biafra, former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys, made a statement at the event condemning the evidence that convicted the West Memphis Three, as well as the system that allowed it to happen.
"Some people say to me, what are you doing defending these guys in Arkansas? They're a bunch of stoners who chopped up little kids for Satan and stuff! And I say, well, okay I wasn't there, I'm not 100 percent sure the West Memphis Three are innocent, but even so, isn't there something in the constitution about people have to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?" said Biafra. "If they're guilty, prove it this time. Prove it for real. No matter how law and order you are, wouldn't it be better to catch the right person before it happens to another kid?" A staunch opponent of the death penalty, Biafra added, "I have been militantly, vehemently against the death penalty for one simple reason: What if they've got the wrong person? This could happen to me; what if they've got the wrong person?"
Among the stellar line-up for the WM3 World Awareness Day at the Swedish American Hall to raise money for the West Memphis Three's defense fund were performances by: Dr. Frank, Paula Frazer, Knife and Fork, Kelley Stoltz, Stephanie Finch, Jonathan Richman, Mark Kozelek, and Jello Biafra. More info about the show here.