Florida 'Suicide Band' Forces Emergency Meeting Of St. Petersburg Council

September 29, 2003

Bay News 9 reports that HELL ON EARTH's persistence forced an emergency meeting of the St. Petersburg City Council Monday morning (September 29).

Council members held a special session in an attempt to stop the Tampa-based industrial rock band from continuing with a planned suicide at one of their concerts next month. The council voted unanimously to create an ordinance that prevents "live suicides" from taking place anywhere within city limits.

St. Petersburg officials thought the controversy would come to an end last week when David Hundley, the owner of the State Theatre, cancelled the band's October 4 show.

HELL ON EARTH's lead singer Billy Tourtelot said Hundley's move wouldn't keep the concert or the suicide from taking place. Tourtelot said they will broadcast the event over the Internet from an undisclosed location in St. Petersburg.

Bill Foster, a St. Petersburg City Council member and an attorney, said such an event would not be tolerated. Even though the council usually meets every other Thursday, they decided on the emergency meeting.

"[The ordinance] would make it unlawful to promote such an event, to promote self-murder in the city," Foster said.

Those who might benefit materially from the promotion of such an event and are providing a venue for a person's self-murder will face prosecution according to the ordinance passed Monday.

Hundley attended Monday's meeting of the council and is pleased by their decision.

"I think the ordinance is a very good move," Hundley said. "It gives them some meat to back it up to keep this sort of thing from taking place in the city."

Tourtelot claims the "live suicide" plans are not about money or publicity. He says he's a true proponent of euthanasia in cases of terminally ill patients.

"How in America can you put people to death through lethal injection because they're voted not to live [by a jury]," Tourtelot said in a recent interview with Bay News 9. "Then you go right around and say that this person who needs to have an assisted suicide can't because we don't want them to."

Foster, for one, isn't buying Tourtelot's newfound political platform. He says if his band members were sincere, they would find another method for their cause.

"There's a right way to do it in Tallahassee, because that's where the change needs to take place," Foster said. "On stage at a show with a 100 screaming people chanting 'Do it, Do it' – there's nothing dignified in that approach."

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