Last night, fans of controversial reggae star Buju Banton were pepper-sprayed by an unknown assailant during Banton’s concert at the Rock It Room. The assault occurred during the show, when, according to the Rock It Room’s booker, Ben Thompson, someone let loose with pepper spray. “This happened directly in the middle of the dance floor, in front of Buju’s backup singers,” he said. He added that the three singers were all affected by the pepper spray, and Gramps Morgan, Banton’s opening act, was also affected. “It got in my eyes and throat,” Morgan said. He didn’t see the assailant, he said, adding, “It was a dark club and I felt it.”
An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified Pollo Del Mar and other LGBT activists as being responsible for the incident, based on misinformation from Banton’s management. SFWeekly regrets the error.
Thompson said the assailant was “absolutely” not Pollo del Mar, who was in full drag and would have been instantly recognizable.
Before the concert, a small group of protestors–including Del Mar–stood outside chanting slogans and attempting to engage clubgoers in dialogue about Banton’s lyrics. Thompson says the protesters left before the pepper spray incident and never entered the venue.
“My side is simple,” says Del Mar. “We showed up. It was a peaceful protest. Violence of any kind is unacceptable,” he adds. Del Mar says he first heard of the incident that night at 2 a.m., and his first thought was that he hoped no one was hurt.
Andrea Shorter, Director of And Marriage For All, who attended the meeting earlier in the day between Banton and members of the LGBT community, derided the pepper spray incident as counter-productive: “Assaulting concert goers is totally unacceptable,” she said in an email.
Following the incident, Banton said, “We play America for the fans, not for the protesters,” declining to make any additional statement on the matter.
This however is NOT funny to me if we expect to broker peace and harmonious relations we cannot going do stuff like this to reintroduce tensions, come on folks whoever you are stop that!