The man accused of physically attacking comedian Dave Chappelle onstage during his Hollywood Bowl show earlier this month told the New York Post in an exclusive interview that Chappelle’s jokes about the LGBTQ community and homelessness were “triggering” and that the funnyman should be more “sensitive.”
“I identify as bisexual … and I wanted him to know what he said was triggering,” 23-year-old Isaiah Lee told the paper at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles. “I wanted him to know that next time he should consider first running his material by people it could affect.”
What’s the background?
Video captured the moment Chappelle was tackled during his May 3 show as well as the aftermath:
“They spat on me and twisted me as if on purpose,” Lee told the paper in regard to security guards who broke his arm and gave him two black eyes.
It was initially reported that Lee was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and booked into jail on $30,000 bail.
However, two days after the attack, the L.A. County district attorney’s office declined to bring felony charges against Lee. Instead he was charged with four misdemeanors: battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage area during performance, and commission of an act that delays the event or interferes with the performer; Lee pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The County DA’s report said “slow motion review of video footage of the incident revealed that the suspect did not have the weapon in his hand at the time he rushed and tackled victim Chappelle,” KCBS-TV reported, adding that the DA’s report said “felony assault charges do not appear to be warranted because of the nature of the unarmed assault, the lack of injuries, and because no weapon was actually used in the assault.”
A judge denied a request that Lee be released on his own recognizance; if found guilty, Lee faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail, KCBS said.
What else did Lee have to say?
Lee told the Post he got angry when Chappelle joked about homelessness as well as his headline-grabbing controversies over material about the LGBTQ community in his special last fall, “The Closer.”
“I’m also a single dad, and my son is five,” Lee — who once was homeless — added to the paper. “It’s a struggle, and I wanted Dave Chappelle to know it’s not a joke.”
Lee also told the Post another comedian in the show’s lineup make a crude joke about pedophilia, which brought back memories of being molested at age 17 while under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles.
Lee told the paper Chappelle asked him backstage at the Hollywood Bowl why he attacked him: “I told him my mother and grandmother, who fought for his civil rights to be able to speak, would be upset at the things he said.”
Lee noted to the Post that Chappelle replied, “Now your story will die with you, son.”
“But he’s wrong,” Lee told the paper. “I’m sitting here talking to you about it.”
The Post said the physical attack against Chappelle led to more criminal charges against Lee, who’s accused of stabbing his roommate last year. The victim identified Lee as his attacker after the Chappelle incident went viral, the Post said, citing prosecutors.
Lee added to the paper that legal issues “went from me probably only doing six months [in jail] and having to do community service and living in a transitional home” in connection to the Chappelle case “to possibly 15 or more years in jail” over the stabbing charges.
“My son will be big by the time I get out,” Lee told the Post.
A representative for Chappelle didn’t return the paper’s request for comment.