SHINEDOWN frontman Brent Smith spoke to Singapore's LAMC Productions about the racial unrest in the United States following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and many other black people who have died at the hands of the police.
He said (see video below): "I think that it truly comes down to the lack of leadership.
"It's interesting — it's very, very interesting — because at this moment in time, with what's going on, the public, the people of America are coming together, and that is the most important element in all of this.
"Our Constitution says on the front page — it's the biggest lettering on the Constitution — it says 'we the people.' This is a democracy in the United States.
"I think what's going on is you have an element of an unknown virus that, not just in America but the entire world literally had the rug ripped out from underneath all of us in a very violent way and in a very quick way too. And now you see, 20 weeks later, in this where the media is changing their stories even more, in the last 72 hours, because of just what is going on."
He continued: "I wish — I so wish — that it wouldn't have taken something as barbaric as what happened to George Floyd to completely turn and twist the narrative back on people's human rights.
"A week and a half ago, with the lockdown and everybody just being inside, everyone being confused, having no plan, being told to just stay away from one another for the better part of the last three months with really no end in sight. Everything is about social distancing: stay away from one another; stay inside. As human beings, that's not what we're supposed to do. We're not supposed to shelter inside and stay away from each other; we wanna be with each other. I've often said that human beings are at our best when we need each other, and that couldn't be any more apparent than right now in regards to what is going on in government right now and how there is a mass divide between the government and the people of the U.S. But the same rule applies to the virus.
"Three months ago, I had no idea what the coronavirus was. I didn't understand what COVID-19 was, or is. I had never heard the term 'social distancing.' I began to educate myself on what it actually means and what was actually going on. And inside of that, we're working with an incredible organization called Direct Relief, which is working all over the world to help the medical and the scientific community — these men and women that need resources on the ground during times of crisis.
"That word [crisis] is being used so much, not only in America, but globally. It's a crisis."
Smith added: "I'm not speaking for any other country, I'm only speaking for the U.S. when it comes to the lack of leadership, the lack of having a plan. But the beautiful thing that's going on and the empowering part of what is being pushed forward in front of all of our leaders is that people from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, ethnicities… The color of your skin is irrelevant. It's about who you are inside, and it should always be about that. No matter what, it should always be about the character, it should always be about the individual inside — man, woman. We're on this planet together. Not only do we need to take care of each other, we need to take care of the planet itself.
"I am beside myself with the lack of leadership that is being presented to this country right now. But you know what? I'm watching the people take that, and I'm seeing a lot of leaders starting to rise up in the communities all over the world right now, especially in the United States. The people are taking it back, and they're making their voices heard, and for the most part, they're trying to do it in a civil way."
Late last month, SHINEDOWN's 2012 song "Atlas Falls" arrived on digital services, after being available since March only as part of a charity T-shirt bundle sold through the band's merch site.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the bundle, totaling more than $300,000, has already gone to non-profit medical supplier Direct Relief. The band also donated $20,000 of its own money. Direct Relief supplies healthcare workers with crucial protective items and equipment.