Rage Against the Machine       Demonstrations

The Protest Against "Guess?"

On December 13th, 1997, Tom Morello was among the 33 people arrested for obstructing a place of business in protest of "Guess?" jeans manufacturer. The protest included a march and a demonstration blocking the entrance to Santa Monica Place Mall. Tom said: "We're against it because they use sweatshop labor in Calcutta, and in the United States -- in Los Angeles, New York City, and the Bay Area. They have slave labor conditions. And they're counting on the people that are reading this not to care. They think that fashion is more important and whatever, and so that brutal exploitation of those workers isn't going to matter to them. We're betting that they're wrong."

The band and U.N.I.T.E.! attempted to put the image at the left on billboards on Santa Monica Boulevard, but were rejected by zoning laws or something.

Rage's PMRC protest at Lollapalooza '93

In the Philidelphia, PA stop of Lollapalooza in 1993, Rage further elevated their notoriety, when they created a protest against censorship and the PMRC, by standing on stage completely naked for a total of 14 minutes, with the bass and guitar feedback buzzing.

They put duct tape over their mouths, and the letters, "P" "M" "R" "C" written on the four band members chests. Tom said, "It was to show that if the fans didn't take matters into their own hands, they wouldn't be able to see bands like us." It wasn't meant to be a "feel good" protest. It was to wake people up to a reality haunting the artistic community. The PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) was founded by Tipper Gore, who is the leader of the anti-music hate group, and now has more power and visibility than ever as the Vice Presidents wife. The PMRC established the 'Parental Advisory' sticker that is put on cases of albums, and are trying to classify it as the legal definition of obsenity. Rage didn't play a single note at the Philadelphia show that day, but came back later that year to play a free show.

Radio Free Los Angeles

Radio Free L.A. was announced to be broadcast January 20, 1997: Inauguration day for president Clinton. A few scattered radio stations transmitted the program, and it was also presented as a streaming broadcast on the RATM website. From Tom: "Radio Free L.A. provided a musical and political gathering point for the majority of Americans--and young people especially--who rightly felt left out of the "democratic process."" Guests that made appearanced included: Michael Moore, Emily Hodgson, Leonard Peltier, Chuck D, Mumia Abu-Jamal, UNITE, Noam Chomsky, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, and Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas. Beck, Cypress Hill, and Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Flea and Stephen Perkins jammed out songs in between interviews and presentations.

Mumia Benefit Concert

With the increased amount of anti-Mumia propaganda being spread by the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia and Maureen Faulkner - widow of slain officer Daniel Faulkner - Rage's organization of a benefit concert for political prisoner Mumia-Abu Jamal with the Beastie Boys, Bad Religion, and Blackstar was widely publicized, and harshly criticized. From the first line of Zack's press statement regarding the concert: "Working to ensure the legal rights that all us presume to enjoy certainly has turned out to be controversial!"

Tom Morello faced the barrage of an ignorant DJ and equally uneducated, and infuriated listeners when he called into KROQ radio to defend the benefit concert when the radio show addressed the specifics of the concert. He also appeared on the Howard Stern show with Maureen Faulkner and Mumia's attorney, Leonard Weinglass. People who didn't know the facts claimed Rage was supporting a "cop killer", despite the fact that the bands playing actually avoided addressing Mumia's innocence, but instead focused on the masked reality that his trial was unfair by all definitions. Tom Morello comments "Mumia's trial was a gross miscarriage of justice. Just unbelievable. 'Highlights' included prosecutorial misconduct, intimidation of witnesses by the police, suppression of evidence of Mumia's innocence, a jury illegally purged of African Americans, a hostile, racist judge and a prosecution who argued for the death penalty based on Abu-Jamal's political beliefs! Mumia is an outspoken revolutionary, a hero to millions around the world and we will not allow his voice to be silenced. We join with Amnesty International in demanding a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal. This is no ordinary show. We are playing for a man's life." For more info read the original press statement announcing the benefit concert, as well as Zack's statement regarding the media's reaction to the concert. For more information on Mumia's case, click here, or go to Mumia.Org.

Rage Censored on Saturday Night Live

On April 10th, 1996 Rage was scheduled to perform two songs on the NBC comedy variety show "Saturday Night Live." The show was hosted that night by ex-Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Steve Forbes. According to RATM guitarist Tom Morello, "RATM wanted to stand in sharp juxtaposition to a billionaire telling jokes and promoting his flat tax...by making our own statement."

To make that statement, RATM hung two upside-down American flags from their amps. Seconds before they took the stage to perform "Bulls on Parade", SNL and NBC sent stagehands in to pull the flags down. The inverted flags, says Morello, represented "our contention that American democracy is inverted when what passes for democracy is an electoral choice between two representatives of the privileged class. America's freedom of expression is inverted when you're free to say anything you want to say until it upsets a corporate sponsor. Finally, this was our way of expressing our opinion of the show's host, Steve Forbes."

RATM first attempted to hang the flags during a pre-telecast rehearsal on Thursday, SNL's producers "demanded that we take the flags down," says Morello. "They said the sponsors would be upset, and that because Steve Forbes was on, they had to run a 'tighter' show." SNL also told the band it would mute objectionable lyrics in "Bullet In The Head" (which was supposed to be RATM's second song). SNL even insisted that the song be bleeped in the studio because Forbes had friends and family there.

On show night, following the first performance, and the flags being torn down, RATM were approached by SNL and NBC officials and ordered to immediately leave the building. Upon hearing this, RATM bassist Tim Bob reportedly stormed Forbes' dressing room, throwing shreds from one of the torn down flags.

SNL censored Rage, period. They could not have sucked up to the billionaire more," said Morello. "The thing that's ironic is SNL is supposedly this cutting edge show, but they proved they're bootlickers to their corporate masters when it comes down to it. They're cowards. It should come to no surprise that GE, which owns NBC, would find 'Bullet' particularly offensive. GE is a major manufacturer of US planes used to commit war crimes in the Gulf War, and bombs from those jets destroyed hydroelectric dams which killed thousands of civilians in Iraq." Morello noted that members of the Saturday Night Live cast and crew, whom he declined to name, "expressed solidarity with our actions, and a sense of shame that their show had censored the performance." For a detailed, first person perspective from (who I suspect to be) Tom Morello of the entire situation click here.

'Sleep Now in the Fire' at the NYSE

Rage hired Michael Moore to direct the video for "Sleep Now in the Fire", and the plan was to play a show on the corner of Broadway and Wall Streets in lower Manhattan: adjacent to the doors of the New York Stock Exchange where American capitalism is generated. A large crowd showed up to watch the band, and they played the song 4 times, recording from different angles. At this time, police went berzerk and ordered the performance to cease. Before Rage could stop, cops attacked Michael Moore; Rage and the fans went crazy when this happened and stormed the police. Rage ran across the street and made it inside the first set of doors of the New York Stock Exchange, and at this, someone hit the riot button and the steel security doors slammed shut, closing the flow of trade. Police arrested the band and the crowd was dispersed.

The video also depicted a satire of the television show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionare?' with clips of the performance in New York inter- spliced with the video of the game show, which displayed questions about the socio-economic reality in America and the world.

Rage and Ozomatli at the DNC

Rage and Ozomatli were shut down by police while playing across the street from the Democratic National Convention. After a march arrived to the stage location, Rage played a set, Zack had the following to say: "There's another show going on across the street from here, but it's all sold out. Brothers and sisters, our democracy has been hijacked. Brothers and sisters, all electoral freedoms in this country are over so long as it's controlled by corporations. Brothers and sisters, we are not going to allow these streets to be taken over by the Democrats or the Republicans. Because it's all of us who have built this city, and we can tear it down unless they give us what we need." Police fired rubber bullets and injured supporters. "Had police cooperated with the rally organizers, the night could have ended calmly and smoothly," the American Civil Liberties Union declared in a statement. "Instead, the police response created huge risks: when people see batons raised, riot gear, and mounted police clearing an area, the tense situation becomes a volatile one."

Concert Controversy

Controversy over Rage concerts are typical - either from communities who believe that Rage have an evil 'cult' following, and think the ideas being spread are threatening, or the cops or media being shocked by certain things Rage has done. Tim setting fire to the American flag at Woodstock (left) angered thousands of patriotic Americans who didn't see it as two sided: Ignoring the personal "glorification", and seeing only the "descecration".

Rage was scheduled to perform at The Gorge, a George, Washington concert venue on September 13, 1997, but Grant County Sheriff William Weister filed a complaint with the courts trying to block the performance. Court documents refer to the group as "militant, radical and anti-establishment" and mention their allegedly "violent and anti-law enforcement" themes. The banning attempt was struck down, and the concert went on with a quadrupled police presence. Rage started the night with "Fuck Tha Police," and Zack spoke from the stage:

"There ain't nothing more frightening than a pig with political aspirations. We take it as an insult that he calls us violent because everybody knows the police are out of control." This isn't the only controversy over Rage concerts - in a lot of more conservative cities, situations similiar to what happened at the Gorge are common. Zack usually takes breaks during Rage songs to voice his opinion about political and social issues, like this conciousness raising speech concerning the US foreign policy as relating to the Zapatistas during the bridge of "Bullet in the Head":

"Just for your personal attention, we would announce, and make very clear, that the U.S. government is starting another Vietnam in southern Mexico. We would like to make this very clear to you, because we believe, we strongly believe that the media in the U.S. is blocking it from your attention. What they're attempting to do, is prevent you, from getting involved here, to prevent the death of millions of indigenous people who took up arms, against the 65 year old dictatorship: the P.R.I. And at this moment in time, millions of indigenous people are being chased into the hillsides, by armies...fueled, and funded by the U.S. government. By the Clinton administration, by William Perry, and all them fuckin' pigs up in Washington. And we fell that it's important that we all know that and understand that, and that our action can stop it. So are you standin' in line? You believin' the lies? You bowin' down to this flag? You gotta bullet in your head?...."

For a collection of items like this, check out the words/quotes section of this site.

Tim Against the Mickey Mouse Club

"The Mickey Mouse Club. That's all I saw up there," said Tim in a comment after he was free from jail after being arrested for climbing up a 15-foot high arc while Limp Bizkit accepted an award at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony. (big smoozy deal) Police and security struggled to coax him down as other artists introduced and accepted awards. It was the best moment of many RATM fans' lives, when Tim got all belligerent and Ol' Dirty Bastard-esque like that.

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