On Friday, Sept. 9, the Independents' Day board posted a short statement to Facebook announcing the festival had cut ties with Flotation Walls, which had been scheduled to perform in a prime Saturday evening slot, citing "community members with concerns about the 2013 criminal conviction of a member of Flotation Walls."

On Friday, Sept. 9, the Independents' Day board posted a short statement to Facebook announcing the festival had cut ties with Flotation Walls, which had been scheduled to perform in a prime Saturday evening slot, citing "community members with concerns about the 2013 criminal conviction of a member of Flotation Walls."

But internal discussions actually started among members of the ID board after Flotation Walls first surfaced as a performer when the lineup was announced in early July, owing to singer Carlos Avendano's 2013 conviction for possession of child pornography. (Avendano served time for his offense; he declined to comment for this story pending an appeal.)

"When we saw [Flotation Walls] come up, the first thing we thought was, 'Oh, cool. We've got another throwback band,'" said Board Member Wolf Starr. "Then everything emerged about his specific history … and it created a huge question mark. We had so many people on our leadership team of hundreds of people who were stagnant on one side or the other, and we said, 'We don't know.'"

Rather than immediately cutting the band loose - "A big thing for us is to make sure that we don't say, 'You made a mistake and so you're done forever,'" Starr said - the festival initially embraced its inclusion as a means of fostering a larger discussion on issues of social justice, accountability and redemption.

"We want to throw the best festival for everyone, and we believe it can be a great platform for conversation … instead of just saying, 'You're out,'" Starr said.

In removing Flotation Walls from the lineup, Independents' Day attempted to curtail a public backlash that had grown in intensity in recent weeks, with volunteers threatening to withdraw from the festival and at least two sponsors contacting organizers after being tagged in social media posts about the controversy. The decision also preceded any kind of public conversation, leaving some in the music community with questions about how the entire affair was handled.

"Despite what the festival is saying about wanting to start a conversation about redemption and second chances … they did very little to nothing to prepare the public to see it that way," said musician Val Glenn. "To me, it looks as though the festival was not prepared to prioritize this dialogue with the community, did not attempt to take any control over public perception and dealt with the backlash by taking a group that was already bracing for an extreme public response and throwing it under the bus."

Philip Kim, who will join his bandmates in Connections performing at ID on Saturday, expressed similar concerns. "This was a giant opportunity for learning - a tough, challenging and meaningful opportunity for the entire community to think deeply about a very delicate issue," he said. "And I wish [the festival] would have been more prepared to rise to the occasion … if they believed that this was a chance for that to happen."

According to Starr, organizers still want to see a larger conversation take place, but ultimately determined "the festival wasn't the appropriate forum."

The Flotation Walls booking and subsequent fallout stirred up a host of questions that have reverberated within the music scene with increasing frequency over the last year: What past misdeeds should prevent a person from taking part in a concert? What does accountability look like? Are there some incidents that one cannot come back from?

Kent Grosswiler, who is scheduled to take part in the Artists Wrestling League at Independents' Day, exists as proof that people can reform. "I used to be a violent drug dealer; now people say I'm a pretty nice person, and they invite me to parties," he said, and laughed.

He's also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, an experience that left deep, lasting scars from which the artist is still finding a means to recover. Grosswiler, 47, has been in therapy for 16 years and sober for 15, and he traces a string of failed relationships to the early childhood trauma. "After a while I tend to isolate and detach," he said.

Due to his experiences, Grosswiler reacted to news of Flotation Walls' inclusion in the lineup with anger. "You don't get your life back perfect [following possession of child pornography charges]. You just don't," he said. "And if there are some things [Avendano] loses out on, like playing a music festival with his band, well fuck him. I don't care."

Grosswiler said the family-friendly nature of the event - it features kID, a growing fest-within-a-fest geared to young attendees - further complicated the situation. Under Ohio law, offenders may not live within 1,000 feet of any school, childcare facility or place where children gather.

The artist described the sexual abuse of children as "an epidemic," and studies by David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Grosswiler also noted that even accessing pornographic images of underage youth contributes to the cycle of abuse by creating a market for those materials - a cycle that can and does leave a lasting impact. "Survivors often go one of two ways: They become perpetrators or they learn to do what I do and straighten out their limpy gait as they're going through life," he said.

Stephanie Ewen of the Tiny House Music Collective echoed Grosswiler's sentiments, saying, "Independents' Day is trying to build this community and make a welcoming space for everybody, and even the idea of Flotation Walls playing is unsafe to some people."

Social worker (and Anyway Records founder) Bela Koe-Krompecher noted that recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than those associated with most crimes. A 2004 Hanson and Morton-Bourgon study pegged the sexual recidivism rate at 13.7 percent, in contrast with an overall criminal recidivism rate of 36.9 percent. Koe-Krompecher also pointed out that the internet allows for split-second decisions people can come to regret just as quickly.

"You look at the situation and say, 'Does one circumstance have to define somebody for the rest of their life?'" Koe-Krompecher said. "[Avendano] got charged and was punished, and until he proves otherwise we have to allow that he's not engaging in that behavior anymore. We have to allow that to happen or the law doesn't mean anything."

Though the road back can be difficult, several interviewed expressed the importance of offering second chances when a person is willing to take accountability for past actions.

"I think it is possible for people to change," Glenn said. "As a community we need to hold people accountable for the things they do, but we also need to be willing to forgive them when they sincerely recognize something needs to change and they're making an effort to change it."

"They've committed the crime, and then there's everything after that," Kim said. "If you stop at, 'This guy's a criminal,' you're not doing anything to help. You're not being accountable.

"We have to keep encouraging people not to stop there. Feel upset, sure, but then push yourself to either make the community better or that person better or yourself better."

Even those most adamantly opposed to Flotation Walls' inclusion were open to the idea that people can, with time, better themselves. "As much as I think anybody in that ballpark is the lowest on the planet ... I believe they can possibly be rehabilitated," Grosswiler said.

Still, even that shouldn't guarantee inclusion on the bill of a community festival, some argued.

"I think that if a person has made great efforts to come back from that … then I think obviously there's room for forgiveness," Ewen said. "But, again, I still think it's fair for people to say, 'Good for you, but no.'"

Regardless, all agreed continuing dialogue is essential.

"Sometimes, even if nothing comes of it, it's absolutely important to have the discussion," Ewen said. "It's important for people organizing in the city to constantly be having these conversations."