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Comedian Chappelle believes Santa Fe banana peel attack racist

AP file photo

AP file photo

SANTA FE, N.M. — Comedian Dave Chappelle told police a banana peel thrown at him during a Monday night performance at the Lensic theater was a racially motivated joke and wants to press charges, states a criminal complaint.

Police arrested Christian Englander, 30, of Santa Fe, who “appeared to be unapologetic and made several statements which appeared to be racially motivated” and said “while smiling and laughing ‘maybe I should have handed you (Chappelle) the banana instead,'” the court documents state.

“It seems to be more than a coincidence that he would have had that banana peel,” the Lensic’s executive director Bob Martin, said this morning in a phone interview. “A banana peel is something you wouldn’t normally put in your back pocket, people don’t save banana peels.”

Vince Kadlubek, CEO of Meow Wolf a Santa Fe arts collective was in the audience when he said the man later identified as Englander stood up and threw the banana peel from the front row.

Chappelle told a police sergeant that it appeared Englander “was not remorseful for what he did and believed it was a joke and was racially motivated,” the criminal complaint said.

According to the documents, Englander and a friend stopped at a Cerrillos Road convenience store before the performance and purchased a shot of the alcoholic beverage “99 Bananas” and a single banana.

Englander ate the banana while standing in line outside the Lensic and put the peel in his back pocket. During the show Englander’s friend was drawing in a book which Chappelle noticed and asked to see. Chappelle complimented the friend on his drawing and asked his name.

The friend said “Johnny Appleseed” and Chappelle continued with his comedy routine using the “Johnny Appleseed” name. Englander told police “he did not appreciate the jokes Mr, Chappelle was saying about his friend because he felt they were racist” and stood up and threw the banana peel at Chappelle hitting him in the leg, the court documents state.

Kadlubek of Meow Wolf said the interaction between “Johnny Appleseed” and Chappelle was light before the banana peel was thrown. When Chappelle and the audience realized what was thrown “he (Chappelle) continued to be a brilliant performer in the midst of something harsh.

He (Chappelle) definitely talked candidly about race in the moment and he made light of the fact it wasn’t a fresh banana … he didn’t even get hit with a fresh banana.”

Kadlubek said a woman in the audience yelled out loudly, “that guy (the banana thrower) does not represent Santa Fe and we love you and we are sorry that happened.” The audience applauded loudly, said Kadlubek.

Englander was escorted out and told not to come back before police arrived and arrested him. He was booked into the county jail at about 4 a.m. this morning on disorderly conduct and battery charges.

The Chappelle shows were presented by Live Nation and took place at 7 and 9:30 p.m., according to the theater’s website. Chappelle is set to appear tonight in two shows at the Abraham Chavez Theater in El Paso and one show on Wednesday night, according to his website.

Executive director Martin said “we hope he (Chappelle) comes back. It was pretty upsetting for him to happen … It was really unexpected. I think it surprised him.”

The Live Nation promoters contacted the Lensic about booking Chappelle, said Martin. Because of email and social media “it (the two shows) practically sold out on the first day it was on sale,” he said. “It was great.”
Police arrested a man Monday night after he allegedly threw a banana peel at comedian and actor Dave Chappelle during a performance at Santa Fe’s Lensic theater.

Christian Englander. Photo/Santa Fe Co. jail.

Christian Englander. Photo/Santa Fe Co. jail.

Christian Englander “appeared to be highly intoxicated and admitted to throwing a banana peel on the stage,” police said in a news release. Police were called at 11:23 p.m.

The banana peel hit Chappelle, 41, on the leg. Englander was charged with battery and disorderly conduct and transported to Santa Fe County Detention Center, the release said.

Chappelle, who is African-American, deals with racism and pop culture in his comedy and is said to have been influenced by Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock.