A woman pleaded no contest today to physical elder abuse for attacking blues singer Lester Chambers after he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin at a festival in Hayward last July. The plea agreement for 44-year-old Dinalynn Andrews-Potter, of Barstow, calls for her to be placed on five years’ probation and be placed in a residential treatment facility for her mental health and substance abuse problems, according to prosecutor Jason Sjoberg. Andrews-Potter spent eight years in the military and might be placed in a veterans’ facility if that is found to be appropriate for her, Sjoberg said.
In exchange for Andrews-Potter’s plea, prosecutors dismissed a felony assault charge against her for the July 13 incident at the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival. She will be formally sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon on April 11. Andrews-Potter attacked Chambers, a 73-year-old Petaluma man, after he announced he would sing Curtis Mayfield’s song “People Get Ready” in honor of Martin, a 17-year-old black youth who was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida two years ago. Chambers dedicated the song several hours before jurors in Zimmerman’s trial last summer acquitted him of all charges. Chambers’ attorney, John Burris, has filed a $5 million claim on Chambers’ behalf against the city of Hayward and a lawsuit against Andrews-Potter and the Bay Area Blues Society seeking an identical amount.
Burris said the blues society should have done a better job of providing security at the festival and the city should have done a better job of supervising the event. The lawsuit alleges that Andrews-Potter rushed the stage after Chambers said he would sing the song, throwing herself on him, punching him repeatedly with her fists, calling him names and “making derogatory slurs implicating his race.” Chambers is black and Andrews-Potter is white.
The suit also alleges that security personnel whose services were retained for the concert were on a smoking break when the attack occurred. Chambers said at a news conference at Burris’ office last August that Potter’s attack was “totally unexpected” and left him “in total shock” because he had dedicated the song as a goodwill gesture of “peace, love, joy and a desire to make a change” and he didn’t condone any violence. Chambers said today that he’s “happy” that Andrews-Potter entered her plea and “will get some much-needed medical attention.”
He said, “It makes me feel real good that she’s getting treatment as opposed to just sitting in a cage.” Chambers said he suffered bruises, cuts and other injuries to his ribs, hands and face in the attack and he now has “severe nightmares” and has trouble sleeping. He said he has recovered from his injuries to a small extent but said, “I’ll never be the same and I’ll be crippled for the rest of my life.” Chambers said he has difficulty performing in public now but released a new album last year and hopes to continue making recordings.
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