Forward Dave Chappelle’s misdemeanor charge torn apart by comedy club owners: ‘Shocking to hear’


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The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office’s decision not to bring criminal charges against Dave Chappelle’s alleged abuser has already sent shockwaves through the entertainment world, and venue owners across the countries are lashing out at what they say is DA George Gascón’s lack of justice.

“It’s shocking to hear,” New York comedy club owner Dani Zoldan told Fox News Digital on Thursday. “The individual who attacked Dave Chappelle did it with a knife. It was planned in advance. I’m curious what they would consider a crime. People should be held accountable for their actions. Failing to accuse that person appropriately sends a message that it’s okay to physically hurt someone, that’s really outrageous.

“Will Smith got an Oscar for slapping Chris Rock and now this. LA is great, and the people deserve to live there without violence. Politicians and the police need to do their jobs right.”

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Stand Up NY comedy club owner Dani Zoldan has called the decision not to charge Dave Chappelle’s attacker “outrageous”.
(Courtesy of Dani Zoldan)

Jamie Masada, owner of Los Angeles-based comedy club chain Laugh Factory, also shared his disappointment with the prosecutor’s decision not to press felony charges against Lee.

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“It’s so unfair. I don’t know the law, but I know what’s right. And, from my perspective, it was a felony, not a misdemeanor,” Masada said. “It is not fair.”

The legendary Laugh Factory in Los Angeles shows its support for comedian Dave Chappelle on May 4, 2022, after the "sticks and stones" speaker was approached during his "Netflix is ​​a joke: the festival" performance at the famous Hollywood Bowl.

Los Angeles’ legendary Laugh Factory shows its support for comedian Dave Chappelle on May 4, 2022, after the ‘Sticks and Stones’ speaker was tackled during his ‘Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival’ performance at the famed Hollywood Bowl.
(Digital Fox News)

On the same day Gascón refused to press felony charges, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer charged Lee with four misdemeanors, including assault, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access allowed onstage during a performance and committing an act that delays the event or interferes with the performer.

It’s unclear what potential penalty could be handed down, and Fox News Digital has reached out to the city attorney’s office for comment.

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Less than 24 hours after Chappelle’s attack, Zoldan also pointed to the heightened anxiety club owners, operators and performers are feeling in the push to ramp up live shows amid the pandemic. The industry is trying to recoup some of its huge losses from being shut down during the pandemic.

Zoldan noted that smaller venues often don’t have enough in their budgets to hire constant security to control crowds.

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Will Smith received an Oscar after slapping Chris Rock and now this. LA is great and the people deserve to live there without violence. Politicians and police have to do their job properly.

— Dani Zoldan, owner of a comedy club in New York

“I mean, we’re definitely not going to have security. Small venues, most of them can’t afford to have that extra payroll. It’s expensive to have security in a small comedy club,” Zoldan lamented. “We’ll have a discussion with the staff about what procedures we need to put in place so people don’t violate the scene. We’ve never had that conversation before.”

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Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Hatami told Fox News Digital, “Anyone who arms himself with a deadly weapon – in this case, a knife – and violently attacks an innocent person, famous or not, must be charged accordingly.”

Stand Up NY comedy club owner Dani Zoldan lamented that his establishment could not afford to hire security at the intimate venue.  Instead, it will implement other protocols to mitigate scene storms.

Stand Up NY comedy club owner Dani Zoldan lamented that his establishment could not afford to hire security at the intimate venue. Instead, it will implement other protocols to mitigate scene storms.
(Courtesy of Dani Zoldan)

“With only a misdemeanor charge, the person could be released soon with just a slap on the wrist. This does not do justice to the victim, does not account for that person’s actions, and does not protect the general public. These concepts , however, like public safety and justice, which most of us value, are concepts that George Gascón cares less about.”

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While many thought the Smith smack of Rock was an isolated incident, Zoldan said it wasn’t naive to think a similar attack wouldn’t happen again.

Comedy club owners across the country are nervous after Will Smith punched Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars and Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage on Tuesday night.

Comedy club owners across the country are nervous after Will Smith punched Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars and Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage on Tuesday night.
(Courtesy of Dani Zoldan)

“I didn’t think it would happen so soon,” Zoldan admitted of Chappelle’s attack. But after [the Chappelle attack], that conversation needs to happen when staff need to know what to do if someone attacks the scene, which also gives us that extra responsibility because a lot of the people that work for me, they’re young, a lot of them are female . They don’t know how to take down someone attacking a scene and, God forbid, there’s a gun or a knife.”

Dave Chappelle during UFC 264: Poirier vs. McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on July 10, 2021.

Dave Chappelle during UFC 264: Poirier vs. McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on July 10, 2021.
(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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“It’s just plain unfair to put comedy club staff in this position because of this idiot,” Zoldan said.

Fox News’ Larry Fink contributed to this report


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