OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A woman punched an elderly bluesman in the face repeatedly after he dedicated a song to the family of Trayvon Martin, blues singer Lester Chambers claims in court.
Chambers sued the City of Hayward and the Bay Area Blues Society – co-sponsors of the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival – in Alameda County Superior Court.
He also sued his alleged attacker, Dinalynn Andrews aka Dinalynn Andrews Potter, of Barstow.
Chambers claims Andrews-Potter assaulted and battered him in July after he dedicated the Curtis Mayfield tune “People Get Ready” to the family of Trayvon Martin during the blues festival in July.
Chambers, 73, also accuses Potter of elder abuse.
“Chambers is an iconic figure in American musical history. His status as a black musician and his outspoken support for racial equality and justice dating back to the 1960s made his dedication an important contribution to the dialogue about the causes, meaning and racial context of incidents such as the shooting death of Trayvon Martin,” Chambers says in his complaint.
Moments after beginning the song, Chambers says – and video captured by Fuse News confirms – a woman climbed onto the stage and knocked him down.
“After the dedication by Chambers and as he began the song a white female, defendant Dinalynn Andrews-Potter, bypassed security to enter the concert venue without authorization or payment of the admission fee, walked through the seated audience directly to the front of the stage, climbed onto the stage where Chambers stood and attacked him, throwing herself on him and punching him repeatedly with her fists,” the complaint states. “During the course of the physical attack she screamed at him, calling him a ‘motherfucker’ and ‘son of a bitch’ and making derogatory slurs implicating his race. Her assault was violent, knocking Chambers backward to the ground and into the musical stands and instruments. She continued to beat him until the efforts of several of the musicians and stagehands succeeded in pulling her away from him. No security personnel intervened at any point during the attack. Plaintiff is informed and believes and alleges that the security personnel whose services were retained for the concert were on a ‘smoke break’ or otherwise absent from where they were supposed to be.”
Chambers claims he suffered cuts and bruises on his hands and face while trying to fend off Andrews-Potter, and a gash to his torso when she pushed him into a piece of equipment. That cut has scarred over and “will require surgery to remove and further cosmetic surgery,” according to the complaint.
Police initially charged Andrews-Potter with misdemeanor assault and battery and released her. However, the Alameda County District Attorney announced last week that she will face two felony counts, of assault and battery and elder abuse.
Chambers sought a hate crime charge, but authorities say Andrews-Potter’s motives remain unclear. San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX reported that after initially refusing to talk to police, the woman said she suffers from a stress disorder and that a repetitive part of the song caused her to snap.
Chambers claims that his injuries and fear after the attack will prevent him from promoting his new album or touring for eight months to a year. He claims he was also “humiliated and shamed by the racially motivated public attack.”
He seeks damages for assault, battery, elder abuse and civil rights claims against Andrews-Potter, and negligence against the Bay Area Blues Society and the city of Hayward.
Chambers is represented by John L. Burris of Oakland.
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