OAKLAND -- The 73-year-old blues musician attacked by a woman during a Hayward music festival after he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin is seeking $5 million in damages, claiming the attack has left him physically and mentally shaken and unable to perform.
Lester Chambers 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. A woman nemed Dinalynn Andrews-Potter, 43, has been charged with felony assault and elder abuse in connection with the 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. Zimmerman's acquittal led to 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 Burris said he also hopes the lawsuit ensures that 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."
While the lawsuit is against Andrews-Potter, it also seeks damages from the Bay Area Blues Society and the city of Hayward. The blues society was sued, Burris said, because it organized the concert and was responsible for security. Hayward was sued because the city should have inspected what security procedures were in place for the festival, he said.
"It was like the sea opened up, and she was able to run right at him," Burris said. "The security never appeared operational."
Representatives from the blues society could not be reached for comment Monday.
Michael Lawson, Hayward's city attorney, declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the city is reviewing a related but separate $5 million claim that Burris filed against the city Monday.
Andrews-Potter was cited and released by Hayward police but was charged last week with felony assault and elder abuse.