Comedian Dave Chappelle attacked on stage at Hollywood Bowl

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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage on Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles by an assailant who tackled him to the ground before being apprehended and arrested, video footage verified by Reuters showed.

The New York Times reported that Chappelle, 48, left the stage following the attack but returned to finish his act and appeared to be uninjured.

An agent and public relations representative for Chappelle did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson on Wednesday identified the suspect as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, who was being held in jail on a $30,000 bond after being charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon.

Lee had a replica gun that contained a knife blade when he attacked Chappelle, the spokesperson said. There was no court hearing scheduled for Lee, according to online jail records.

Video footage posted on Twitter showed the attacker running onto the stage and launching his upper body into Chappelle, slamming his shoulder into the comedian's ribs and chest.

After the initial contact, the assailant and Chappelle took several steps before both fell to the floor, it showed. The assailant then stood up and ran around the stage, dodging a swarm of people for several seconds before they tackled him near the back of the stage.

Chappelle was performing at the venue along with other comedians as part of an 11-day comedy festival called "Netflix is a Joke."

The attack occurred just over a month after actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, an unprecedented incident at the globally televised event that prompted concerns performers might face copycat assaults.

Smith, who won the best actor award, was subsequently banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years. The actor issued statements apologizing to Rock, the Oscars producers, nominees and viewers after the incident.

According to an ABC News report, Rock, who had performed there earlier in the evening, joined Chappelle on stage moments after it took place and joked: "Was that Will Smith?"

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed the suspect on a stretcher being placed into an ambulance. He was taken to hospital with minor injuries, NBC Los Angeles cited police as saying.

Brianna Sacks, a journalist for BuzzFeed News who attended the event, said the altercation took place as Chappelle ended his performance.

Chappelle's Netflix comedy special "The Closer" was criticized last year by some who saw it as ridiculing transgender people. Supporters of the comedian viewed it as a cry against what is called cancel culture.

A representative for the Hollywood Bowl told Reuters the incident was under investigation, declining to comment further.

(Reporting by Akriti Sharma and Shivam Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Will Dunham and Howard Goller)

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