Cult singer Ian Astbury apologises after telling festival crowd: 'All lives matter'

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Astbury thanks his critics for ‘enlightening me that this phrase is offensive’

Cult singer Ian Astbury apologises after telling festival crowd: 'All lives matter'
Foot in mouth … Ian Astbury on stage at RBC Bluesfest on Saturday. Photograph: Mark Horton/Getty Images

The Cult’s singer, Ian Astbury, has apologised for using a phrase that has been employed to belittle the Black Lives Matter movement, the Ottawa Citizen reports. While performing with the Cult at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on 9 July, Astbury launched into a speech about the need to fight racism, environmental destruction and “dumbasses with guns”. He said of gun violence in the US: “It ain’t a race thing, it’s a people thing.” The phrase that caused offence, though, was: “All lives matter.”

All Lives Matter has become used as a counter to Black Lives Matter, despite the point of the latter being to point out that the disproportionate numbers of black people killed by police in the US suggests black lives are less valued. Many regard it as at best ignorant and at worst racist.

After the group’s performance, Astbury was called out for his remarks, with one person – who was then named in Astbury’s apology – writing: “#WhitePrivilegeMeans chanting ‘all lives matter’ at a music festival and not apologizing. Shame on you.”

Astbury tweeted from the Cult’s account: “I sincerely and deeply apologize to everyone I offended by using the phrase ‘all lives matter’ … I fully support #blacklivesmatter and wished to show my solidarity. So disheartened to know that I have offended people of color. Thank you for enlightening me that this phrase is offensive.”

Unfortunately, the apology had the effect of focussing the ire of Cult fans on those named in the tweet who had led the criticism of Astbury, and hundreds of tweets were aimed towards them, attacking them for being racist themselves or for being “SJWs”, or social justice warriors.

The Cult continued to stand by their apology, tweeting that “we must take responsibility at this time to recognise the importance of not marginalising black lives among all lives”, and addressing fans who had reacted angrily to those who had criticised the band: “To our fans: We will not condone racism or hate speech in ANY way on our socials. We have no problem deleting, banning, or reporting you.”

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