Coun. Aidan Johnson to protest Bill Cosby show in Hamilton
Comedian to appear at Hamilton Place Theatre on Jan. 9 as part of Ontario tour
Hamilton city councillor Aidan Johnson says he plans to attend a protest outside the Bill Cosby show on Jan. 9 at Hamilton Place, in light of the sex assault allegations against the American comedian.
"I'm hoping to attend the protest outside the venue to stand in solidarity with the protesters and with victims of sexual assault," Johnson, the councillor for Ward 1, said Sunday.
"I think there's a risk that some people may interpret the show going forward as a sign that the city is not concerned about the terrible reality of sexual assault," Johnson said. "I feel that the city needs to be very clear. Any suggestion that sexual assault is not evil needs to be avoided."
Councillors Sam Merulla and Jason Farr both said they may also attend the protest, though they have scheduling conflicts. Coun. Judi Partridge said she also supports the protest, but doesn't plan to attend.
"I applaud the efforts here [to protest] both inside and outside of the show," Coun. Farr said. "I think it's incredibly disrespectful that [Cosby] would even contemplate continuing the shows."
Last week, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he won't attend any appearances by Cosby.
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At least 15 women have levied sexual assault allegations against Cosby, known for his role as head of the Huxtable clan on the popular 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show. Cosby has not been charged in connection with any of the accusations.
Cosby’s lawyer has previously said his client would not dignify “decade-old, discredited" claims of sexual abuse with a response.
Ward 3 councillor Matthew Green said he supports those who plan to protest, but wants to focus attention on local victims and issues of gender-based violence, like missing and murdered aboriginal women.
"As Canadians we tend to point our fingers at American examples of inequality and injustice," Green said. "I have no plans of attending the show or the protest. My focus is more paying attention to local instances of gender-based violence."
Coun. Partridge said she "absolutely would not support the concert" herself. But there may be a silver lining to the comedian moving ahead with his tour, she said.
"By having the show moving around it kind of snowballs the conversation, if you will, across the country," she said. "It will be interesting if indeed he actually comes out on stage."
In London, Ont., ahead of a Jan. 8 performance by Cosby, Mayor Matt Brown said he shared concerns with residents upset about the comedian’s show, adding that the promoter was the only person able to cancel the show.
Protest planned for Hamilton theatre
In Hamilton, local writer Anne Bokma has been organizing people to purchase tickets for Cosby's show, to form a protest inside Hamilton Place Theatre. Hamilton's Woman Abuse Working Group is planning to protest outside the venue if it goes ahead.
Scott Warren, general manager of FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton Place and the Molson Canadian Studio, has said the venue is not able to cancel the show.
"The venue is not in a position to cancel the show as we have a legally binding contract with the promoter," Warren has said. "Cancelling the show would be a breach of contract and open us up to potential litigation."
In mid-December, Los Angeles prosecutors said they would not be filing charges related to an alleged sexual assault from 1974, saying the statue of limitations had passed. A civil suit was reportedly filed before the prosecutor's decision, with a woman named Judy Huth alleging Cosby forced her to perform a sex act in the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old.