- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The attorney for the man accused of throwing a banana peel at comedian Dave Chappelle during a performance in Santa Fe said Monday his client isn’t a racist and that Chappelle should have to testify in the case or drop it.

Attorney Rod Thompson, who is African American, made the comments to The Santa Fe New Mexican (https://bit.ly/1RuBofU ) after a status hearing before Magistrate Judge Donita Sena.

Thompson’s client, Christian Englander, who is white, is facing charges of disturbing the peace and battery after the fruit-throwing incident in March.

Englander had acknowledged throwing a peel from a banana he had eaten earlier because he took offense to jokes Chappelle, who is African American, made about his companion, according to police.

The friend reportedly was drawing in a sketchbook during the show when Chappelle noticed and asked the man his name, which he gave as “Johnny Appleseed.” Chappelle then made jokes about the moniker, and police say that’s why Englander got upset.

At the time, Chappelle’s agent declined to comment on the situation.

Prosecutors haven’t found any other witnesses to the incident or other people who have filed complaints about it, Thompson said. It’s incumbent upon the state to interview Chappelle, even if by telephone, for the case, he said.

“This should really be dismissed, especially if the complaining witness does not follow up on the charges,” Thompson said.

“Racism affects everyone, but it doesn’t help when you cry wolf,” he said. “And this is a ‘cry wolf’ situation.’”

If Englander is tried and found guilty, Thompson said his client maintains the right to file for a new trial in district court.

Englander, a self-described eccentric who works as a disc jockey and a performance artist, was at his attorney’s side. He was dressed in a conservative blue jacket set off by multi-colored house shoes and a bright tie. His hair was dyed yellow and orange.

Englander said there has been a “character disintegration” campaign against him since the incident.

Englander maintains the act was social satire and said he is not a racist.

Several days after the Chappelle incident, Englander was accused of throwing a banana peel at another black man, Jay Willis, in Santa Fe following a fight between the two at a downtown bar.

No charges have been filed in that second incident, Santa Fe police said Monday.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com

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