Riot Fest speaks 2015 presents the West Memphis Three

Saturday, September 12: Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis Three will take stage as part of a panel moderated by Henry Rollins to discuss their history, journey to freedom after over 18 years in jail and the way music activism contributed their release. Arrested in 1993 as teenagers, Echols, Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were convicted of the murders of three young boys in West Memphis, AR and sentenced respectively to death and two life sentences, despite a dearth of physical evidence. Police and prosecutors advanced the theory that the boys were killed in a satanic sacrifice, using the Three’s love of metal music and Echols’ interest in the occult as ‘proof’. Eventually the case caught the attention of activists like Henry Rollins, who worked with other vocalists from various rock, hip hop, punk and metal groups and members of Black Flag and the Rollins Band on the compilation albumRise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. Others like Johnny Depp, Pearl Jam and Patti Smith performed at benefits. Criticism of the prosecution grew louder and DNA science advanced, excluding them. In 2011, the Three agreed to a plea bargain and were freed.