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Flavor Flav fired from Public Enemy following fight over Sanders rally

Public Enemy Radio performed at a rally for Sanders in Los Angeles Sunday night.
Image: Chuck D and Flavor Flav
Rappers Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy perform during the Hip Hop Gods Classic Tourfest Revue at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia City.Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images file

Public Enemy fired Flavor Flav, the band announced Sunday, after the rapper had sent a cease and desist letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders in response to an announcement that group co-founder Chuck D planned to perform under the group's name at a rally for the presidential candidate.

"Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav," said a statement obtained by NBC News. "We thank him for his years of service and wish him well."

The statement said that Public Enemy Radio, a Public Enemy offshoot led by Chuck D and featuring DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws would go on with their plan to perform at Sanders' 6 p.m. rally at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The rally and show were livestreamed on Sanders' website next to donation option buttons.

On Friday, Flav's lawyer sent a letter to the Sanders campaign alleging that the performance at the political rally would use Flav's "unauthorized likeness" and "image" for promotion purposes.

"While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit — his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy. The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is, there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav," the letter read.

Flav added a personal note at the bottom of the letter that said: "Hey Bernie, don't do this," along with a drawing of his signature clock.

Flav and Chuck D in the early '80s were two founding members of the group, known for its politically-charged lyrics and messaging.

Flav responded to his firing on his Twitter account Monday. "@MrChuckD are you kidding me right now??? ... over Bernie Sanders??? You wanna destroy something we've built over 35 years OVER POLITICS???," Flav wrote. "all because I don't wanna endorse a candidate ... I'm very disappointed in you and your decisions right now."

"I'm not your employee ... i'm your partner ... you can't fire me ... there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav ... so let's get it right Chuck," Flav continued.

Later Monday, an open letter released by Public Enemy contended that the group's decision was not over "political views."

The letter said Flav had been on "suspension" since 2016 when he didn't show up for another benefit, for Harry Belafonte.

Flav "had previously missed numerous live gigs ... album recording sessions and photo shoots," the group claimed. "He always chose to party over work."

"This was the last straw for the group," the letter said. "It's time to move on and everyone wishes Flavor well." The letter was signed by Chuck D, James Bomb, DJ Lord, Pop Diesel and Jahi.

Chuck D had ripped into Flav on Sunday saying, "It’s not about BERNIE with Flav... he don’t know the difference between BarrySanders or BernieSanders." Some Garth Brooks fans mixed up the football player and presidential candidate last week.

Chuck D said he's thrown his support behind Sanders because his "dad passing in 2016 and Granddaughter being born automatically put healthcare and childcare at the top of my brain."

Later Sunday, Chuck D continued to criticize Flav, explicitly on Twitter and more subtly on Instagram.

"It’s no longer tolerable to just pontificate and not do s--t. People gotta realize, whoever they vote for isn’t going to be Jesus," Chuck D wrote in an Instagram post.

"Spoke @BernieSanders rally with @EnemyRadio. If there was a $bag, Flav would’ve been there front & center. He will NOT do free benefit shows. Sued me in court the 1st time I let him back in. His ambulance lawyer sued me again on Friday," Chuck D wrote on Twitter after the rally Sunday.

In a 2017 lawsuit, Flav accused Chuck D and two of his business of withholding Public Enemy royalties a merchandising revenue from him.

Flav said in his tweets Monday that he hadn't sued Chuck D again.

"I didn't sue you on Friday ... I asked the @berniesanders campaign to correct misleading marketing," Flav wrote.

Flav also addressed Chuck D's recent insistence that he should be in rehab. "I'm not on drugs like you're saying and have been clean for 10 years ... i have battled addiction before and like millions of other Americans I know the massive toll it takes," Flav wrote. "Chuck you know better than to lie about s--- like that."

Variety contributed.