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Dave Chappelle Attack Suspect Says He Was 'Triggered' By Comic's Jokes About Poverty, LGBTQ Community

Isaiah Lee, who said he is bisexual and previously homeless, told the New York Post that Dave Chappelle should be more "sensitive."

By Gina Tron
Dave Chappelle

The man accused of tackling Dave Chappelle onstage is now saying he was “triggered” by the comedian’s material.

Isaiah Lee, 23, told The New York Post over the weekend that Chappelle’s jokes about the LGBTQ community and homelessness had “triggered” him.

“I identify as bisexual … and I wanted him to know what he said was triggering,” Lee said from the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles. “I wanted him to know that next time, he should consider first running his material by people it could affect.”

He added that Chappelle, 48, should be more “sensitive.” 

Chappelle was performing stand-up at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on May 3 when Lee allegedly jumped on stage. Police say Lee was armed with a replica gun that had an ejectable knife blade attached to it when he rushed Chappelle. He was initially charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, authorities confirmed to Oxygen.com; the charge has since been downgraded to a misdemeanor.

Chappelle, who spoke to Lee after the alleged attack at the Bowl, later told an audience that he believes that the man is mentally ill, a depiction that Lee has since challenge. Chappelle said that Lee told him that the attack was meant to bring attention to the fact that Lee's grandmother had been forced out of her Brooklyn neighborhood by gentrification. Lee also apparently wrote a rap song two years ago about the comic.

Lee, who was once homeless, now says he became irate while watching Chappelle make jokes about homelessness. 

“It’s a struggle and I wanted Dave Chappelle to know it’s not a joke,” he said.

Days after the incident, Chappelle made a homeless joke about Lee while on stage. He told Chris Rock, who was infamously slapped by actor Will Smith at the Academy Awards in March, during a secret comedy set"At least you got smacked by someone of repute! I got smacked by a homeless guy with leaves in his hair."

Lee also told the Post that he got angry when Chappelle made light of his past controversy regarding both the LGBTQ community. Criticism of Chappelle has grown over the past several years, most recently after after Netflix special “The Closer,” in which he made several jokes that have been criticized as transphobic and classist. 

Lee claimed that he didn’t intend to harm the comic and that he always has the weapon on him because he considers himself a “minor celebrity” and thus needs protection.

But Lee is also accused of stabbing his roommate, a charge that came following the publicity surrounding the Chappelle incident. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced on Thursday that Lee has been charged with one count of attempted murder in connection with the Dec. 2 stabbing of a roommate at a transitional living facility, who hasn't been identified, according to a news release.

“Lee is charged with stabbing his roommate during a fight at a transitional housing apartment on December,” Gascón stated. “As a result of media reports about the Chappelle case, the victim recently identified Lee as the person who committed the assault he had previously reported to police.”

Lee pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder charge on Thursday. He is scheduled to return to court on June 2.

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