SANTA ROSA (KRON) – Comedian Dave Chappelle is set to do a comedy show tonight at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, even though hundreds of people signed a petition against him performing.
Over 450 people have signed it, saying they want his show canceled.
“By giving discrimination the stage, the Luther Burbank Center sends a message to all of Sonoma County that prejudice, harmful language, and stereotypes are cause for laughter and celebration,” the petition states.
The petition’s creator, Joy Anderson, stated that since the venue is a nonprofit and claims to stand for unity and diversity, it shouldn’t host Chappelle, who has faced a backlash for his comments on LGBTQ matters, particularly the transgender community. For example, Chappelle said he is “team TERF,” which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” which means feminists who reject the assertion that trans women are women.
Nonetheless, thousands bought tickets to Chapelle’s four Santa Rosa shows — 6,364 tickets sold in eight hours, according to the Press Democrat, which also reported that the center decided not to cancel on Chapelle due to censorship concerns.
Last week the outcry was in Minneapolis, where Chappelle’s show was canceled by the venue the day of.
Now those who signed the petition want these shows canceled as well.
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An open letter from TransLife Sonoma County states that “we are highly disappointed that you made the decision to welcome Chappelle with open arms despite the fact that his transphobia has been highly publicized in the media over many years. This is in direct conflict with your commitment to make ‘the arts more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.'”
Chappelle’s show tonight starts at 7 p.m. and he’s set to perform two shows Wednesday night and one Thursday.
TransLife Sonoma County states they have reached out to the venue and have not heard anything back.
After the initial publication of this report, Luther Burbank issued KRON4 a statement reading, in-part: “Arts & Entertainment has a long history of being controversial. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion allows for different voices and opinions.”
With regard to the Chappelle matter, the staff “thoughtfully discussed internally considering the controversy, diversity of opinion, our responsibility to the community, and where does censorship begin and end. Many members of the staff, which represent the diversity of the community, watched [the Netflix special] ‘The Closer’ and other material from the artist to understand context. In the end, we determined it is not our role to censor, particularly from an organization renting our facility and one that provides diverse artists such as the voices of Wanda Sykes, Randy Rainbow, Trevor Noah, and John Oliver to our community. This decision was not made lightly.
“We look forward to continuing the conversation on how we can continue to support our LGBTQIA+ community and provide a platform for their voices to be heard,” the statement concludes.