N.O.W. Demands Apology from Woodstock Promoters - Rolling Stone
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N.O.W. Demands Apology from Woodstock Promoters

N.O.W. Demands Apology from Woodstock Promoters

The reputation of Woodstock ’99 has taken several hard hits in the
weeks since it ended, but the continuing controversy surrounding
sexual assaults alleged to have occurred at the festival may be the
sternest blow dealt so far.

Representatives from the National Organization for Women gathered
outside the New York City office of Woodstock promoter John Scher’s
Metropolitan Entertainment yesterday to hold a press conference
addressing what they consider to have been the co-promoters’
mishandling — in terms of prevention as well as response — of the

“According to reports we’ve heard, there were attacks on women that
were occurring, that were not being stopped,” said N.O.W.’s New
York chapter president, Galen Sherwin. “I think that it’s the
responsibility of the promoters to take theses allegations
seriously and not just deny them. I think there could have been
more security presence that was more responsive to reports of
violence against women. I think that there could have been more of
a police presence on the scene.”

“I don’t know that you can ever, in a population of a quarter of a
million people, cover every eventuality,” said Woodstock producer
Michael Lang, calling from Rome, N.Y., Friday morning. “A lot of
the responsibility rests with the individuals who were there to
conduct themselves in a civilized way.”

But, based on the flood of reports her office received from
Woodstock attendees, Sherwin complains that the atmosphere at the
festival “reached a level of unbridled machismo and aggression that
was really, really disturbing and terrifying, frankly, for many of
the people who were there.”

One of the primary sources of N.O.W.’s charges against Lang and his
co-producers has been the testimonial of a woman who claims to have
been met by indifference when she reported an assault to the
production office during the event.

“We have asked state police to launch an investigation into the
recent accusations of obstruction of justice leveled against us,”
said the producers in a statement issued earlier this week. But
Lang pointed out that the woman who issued the testimonial has
returned neither his nor the police’s phone calls about the alleged
incident. “It’s so hard to make an assessment based on a rumor,”
Lang said.

“They’re trying to downplay it, they’re trying to dismiss it,
they’re trying to discredit us,” said Sherwin. “They’re trying to
discredit the people who spoke out as witnesses.”

Lang and his co-producers, meanwhile, accused N.O.W. of similar
spin doctoring. In their statement, they expressed their “shock in
discovering that a reputable organization such as N.O.W. would
blatantly misrepresent our position on the subject of these
allegations of violence against women…. While we too would like
to use this situation as a springboard to generate public awareness
of violence against women, this is not the way to do it.”

Sherwin has said that N.O.W.’s demands are pretty simple. In
addition to demanding that the producers issue an apology, she
explained: “We’ve called for an investigation into what happened,
into the allegations that the promotions and production staff
wasn’t doing anything. Certainly that doesn’t correct the damage
that was done. But what it does is it sends a very clear message
that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated, that we expect and
demand that violence against women be taken seriously. And so I’m
for holding their feet to the fire, even if it’s after the

And, even as his toes get singed in the process, Lang acknowledged
that, ultimately, it is his and his co-producers’ responsibility to
make sure that this issue is addressed. He said: “As Harry Truman
said, ‘The buck stops here.'”


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