A Petaluma musician attacked after he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin at a Hayward blues festival is seeking $5 million in damages, claiming the assault has left him physically and mentally shaken and unable to perform.
Lester Chambers, 73, said he has lost out on a potential music tour and was forced to delay the completion of a new album because the attack caused serious injuries.
Dinalynn Andrews-Potter, 43, of Barstow, has been charged with felony assault and elder abuse in connection with the July 13 attack.
“It's a nightmare,” Chambers said Monday at a news conference announcing a civil rights lawsuit filed by his attorney, John Burris. “When we are on stage, doing what we do, we are in a completely different world. I didn't even see her coming, and then before I could do anything, the attack occurred.”
Chambers was just beginning to play Curtis Mayfield's “People Get Ready” when a woman, identified by police as Andrews-Potter, jumped on the stage and began attacking him. She ran toward the stage after Chambers dedicated the song to Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen who was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. A jury acquitted Zimmerman the evening of the concert, sparking demonstrations across the country.
Videos of the event show a woman punching Chambers in the side numerous times before others pulled her off.
“I'm still trying to figure it out. I was asking people to pray and to have a good day,” Chambers said. “Then she came running up, busy calling me every kind of (expletive) and every kind of (expletive) I could be.”
Burris said Chambers decided to sue in part to regain income he lost from the cancellation of a potential tour and because an album release was delayed. But he also hopes the lawsuit will ensure the attacker is held responsible for what Burris said is a hate crime.
“This attack was racially motivated; it has all the makings of a hate crime,” Burris said. “He was promoting goodwill, he was attempting to provide comfort.”