Bill Cosby to face protest in Hamilton, called 'rapist' in London
American comedian set to wrap up Ontario tour amid sexual assault allegations
Hamilton's Anne Bokma says she wants Bill Cosby to see his protesters.
"We want Cosby to see and hear us," Bokma said ahead of Friday's show at Hamilton Place Theatre, the final stop of an Ontario tour for the comedian, who has been in the news for weeks as woman after woman came forward with sexual assault allegations.
Cosby isn't facing any charges and through his lawyer has denied all of the allegations against him.
Following a standing ovation in Kitchener and a confrontation with a heckler in London, Bokma said Cosby shouldn't expect a warm welcome in Hamilton.
Protests are planned for both outside and inside the venue.
- Bill Cosby called a rapist by heckler at London, Ont., show
- Bill Cosby warns audience of disruptions at Ontario shows
- Bill Cosby in Hamilton: How to decide whether to see Friday's show
In London on Thursday night, a heckler yelled out that the comedian was a rapist.
Cosby stood up as the crowd started to boo the man and asked them not to respond.
"No, no, stop," he said, waving his hands.
"Shh, no clapping right now. That's all right. Patience."
The man was removed from the theatre by a police officer while another member of the audience yelled to Cosby, "We love you." The 77-year-old comedian then continued with his routine.
Don't interact with protesters: Cosby
A few minutes earlier, a woman who got up from one of the front rows and walked past the stage was asked by Cosby where she was going.
When she answered that she was going to the lobby to grab a drink, Cosby responded with: "You have to be careful about drinking around me," which drew loud applause.
Cosby had expected hecklers at his Ontario shows, and issued a statement advising fans not to interact with protesters and to "stay calm."
Cosby issued a statement after the London show that read, "One outburst but over 2,600 loyal, patient and courageous fans enjoyed the most wonderful medicine that exists for humankind. Laughter. I thank you, the theatre staff [Budweiser Gardens], the event organizers and the ... community for your continued honour and support. I'm far from finished."
At the Kitchener show, Cosby made no mention of the more than 15 women who have publicly alleged the comedian sexually assaulted them.
Bokma has said people who had bought tickets but no longer wanted to attend the show had offered them to her, to give to protesters willing to go inside and disrupt the show.
'Upset' about Kitchener standing ovation
She said she was "upset" to see Cosby get a standing ovation in Kitchener.
Cosby was ambushed as he left the venue Wednesday by Abdul Butt, a mock correspondent on the CBC comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
"Hey, Bill, congratulations on your first show in 2015!" Butt yelled at Cosby as he left the Kitchener show Wednesday. "Way to start the year off with a bang! Hope it was consensual this time, though, Billy."
Even though the allegations against Cosby, known for his role as head of the Huxtable clan on the popular 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show, are unproven, Bokma said it is hard to believe so many women would make up stories of sexual abuse.
"We have 30 women who have been victimized by Cosby in a very specific way over decades," she said. "We believe these women … Nobody wants to be famous for being raped … Come on people, use your common sense."
The protest outside the Hamilton theatre is being organized by the Woman Abuse Working Group.
"While we question the support of alleged rapists, we are especially concerned about the message this sends to survivors of abuse and violence. We do not want this event to be about Mr. Cosby, we want this gathering to send a strong message to everyone in our community that we believe and stand by survivors," a statement from the group read.
Organizers are asking anyone who joins them not to heckle people going into the show.
Late Thursday, there were still quite a few tickets available for the show.
Police to be out in force at Hamilton show
Scott Warren, general manager of FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton Place and the Molson Canadian Studio, has said the venue was not able to cancel Cosby's appearance.
"We have a legally binding contract with the promoter," he said. "Cancelling the show would be a breach of contract and open us up to potential litigation."
Ike Richman, of Comcast-Spectacor, which manages the theatre, said police – uniformed and in plainclothes – will be at the event in Hamilton.
Richman said showgoers will be asked to leave if they disrupt the show. Police will not disturb protesters outside the venue unless they block ticket holders from getting in.
Bokma estimates 400 people will protest at Friday's London show.