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The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office’s decision not to bring felony charges against Dave Chappelle’s alleged onstage attacker has already sent shockwaves through the world of entertainment, and live venue owners across the country are coming down hard on what they say is DA George Gascón’s lack of justice.
“This is shocking to hear,” New York comedy club owner Dani Zoldan told Fox News Digital Thursday. “The individual that attacked Dave Chappelle did so with a knife. It was planned in advance. I’m curious what they would consider felony conduct. People should be held accountable for their actions. Not charging this person appropriately sends a message that it’s OK to physically harm someone. It’s really outrageous.
“Will Smith got an Oscar after he slapped Chris Rock and now this. LA is awesome, and residents deserve to live there violence-free. Politicians and police need to do their job right.”
Stand Up NY comedy club owner Dani Zoldan called the decision not to charge Dave Chappelle’s attacker with a felony “outrageous.” (Courtesy of Dani Zoldan)
Jamie Masada, owner of the LA-based Laugh Factory chain of comedy clubs, also shared his disappointment with the DA’s decision not to file felony charges against Lee.
“It is so unjust. I don’t know about the law, but I do know what’s right. And, from my perspective, that was a felony, not a misdemeanor,” Masada said. “It is just not right.”
The legendary Laugh Factory in Los Angeles shows support for comedian Dave Chappelle May 4, 2022, after the “Sticks and Stones” orator was tackled during his “Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival” performance at the famed Hollywood Bowl. (Fox News Digital)
On the same day that Gascón declined to file felony charges, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer hit Lee with four misdemeanor crimes which include battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage area during a performance, and commission of an act that delays the event or interferes with the performer.
It’s unclear what a potential penalty could be handed down and Fox News Digital has reached out to the city attorney’s office for comment.
Less than 24 hours after the Chappelle attack, Zoldan also pointed to the increased anxiety club owners and operators and performers are feeling in the push to ramp up live shows amid the pandemic. The industry is trying to make back 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 consistent security to control crowds.
Will Smith got an Oscar after he slapped Chris Rock and now this. L.A. is awesome, and residents deserve to live there violence-free. Politicians and police need to do their job right.
— New York comedy club owner Dani Zoldan
“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 at a small comedy club,” Zoldan lamented. “We will have a discussion with the staff about what procedures we need to put in place so people don’t breach the stage. We never had that conversation before.”
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami told Fox News Digital, “Anyone who arms themselves with a deadly weapon — in this case, a knife — and violently attacks an innocent person, famous or not, should be charged accordingly.”
Stand Up NY comedy club owner Dani Zoldan lamented his establishment can’t afford to hire security at the intimate venue. Instead, it will implement other protocols to mitigate stage stormers. (Courtesy of Dani Zoldan)
“With only a misdemeanor charge, the person could be released soon with only a slap on the wrist. That fails to provide justice to the victim, accountability for this person’s actions, and safety to the general public. These concepts, however, like public safety and justice, that most of us value, are concepts George Gascón can care less about.”
While many people believed the Smith smack of Rock to be an isolated incident, Zoldan said he wasn’t naive to think a similar attack wasn’t going to happen again.
Comedy club owners throughout the country are on edge after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars and Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage Tuesday night. (Courtesy of Dani Zoldan)
“I didn’t think it was going to happen so soon,” Zoldan admitted of the Chappelle attack. But after [the Chappelle attack], that conversation needs to be had where the staff needs to know what they need to do if someone attacks the stage, which also gives us that extra liability because a lot of the people that work for me, they’re young, a lot are females. They don’t know how to take down someone that attacks a stage and, God forbid, there’s a gun or a knife.”
Dave Chappelle during UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas July 10, 2021. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
“It’s just unfair to put comedy club staff in that position because of this idiot,” Zoldan said.
Fox News’ Larry Fink contributed to this report