By Chris Hoenig
On July 13 at the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival, in the East Bay area near Oakland—hours before a jury returned a not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman—Chambers, a founding member of The Chambers Brothers, dedicated Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” to Martin. Police say 43-year-old Dinalynn Andrews-Potter then climbed on stage and attacked Chambers, shoving him into an amplifier and knocking him down.
“Started calling me MFs and SBs with different slurs and screaming at me, ‘You started this! You started this, you MF!’ and she hit me,” the 73-year-old Chambers recounted recently. “I have a great big lump over here on my left rib cage, under my shoulder.”
Andrews-Potter, who is white, was initially given just a citation for misdemeanor battery and allowed to go on her way, but prosecutors on Wednesday announced felony charges of assault and elder abuse. The upgraded counts don’t satisfy Chambers, who wants Andrews-Potter charged with a hate crime. “She had hate in her face like a demon. Oh, God, it was ugly,” he said. “I do suggest that they see this the way it really is. Honestly, it is a hate crime. There’s no other reason for it.”
Authorities say Andrews-Potter’s motives for the attack are unclear and they are unsure whether she even heard Chambers’ dedication to Martin. They issued a warrant for her arrest on Wednesday.
Chambers and his brothers are best known for the 1968 hit “Time Has Come Today.” He is due to release his first album since 2008 later this year, but plans for more shows to support his music—and Martin—are on hold for now. “My nerves are shot, I shake, I can’t sleep,” he said.
Chambers has retained civil-rights attorney John Burris to represent him.