The controversy surrounding Bill Cosby’s scheduled January 8 performance at London’s Budweiser Gardens continues to swirl through the Forest City.
Amid accusations of sexual assault against an unconfirmed number of women by Cosby, the number of voices both concerned about and opposed to his appearance in London Thursday continues to grow.
With appeals to management of Budweiser Gardens prompting them to cancel the show going unheeded and rebuffed on contractual grounds, a protest spearheaded by the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) and Unifor Locals 27 and 302 has now been organized to take place outside the facility starting at 6 p.m. that night. According to LAWC executive director Megan Walker, as many as 400 people had already signed up to attend the event as of Monday evening (Dec. 30), and that a Facebook page inviting people to join in the protest has been started as well.
Mayor Matt Brown has also weighed in, voicing his concerns about the London show.
“I understand that many people across our community and across North America have strong concerns about the performance at Budweiser Gardens,” said Brown in a prepared statement released on Monday. “I share those concerns. I have looked into it and learned, as is the case with several other entertainment venues in Ontario, the promoter or operator is responsible for its contracts with those scheduled to perform and only they can cancel a show.”
Brown was unavailable for further comment but Ward 8 Councillor Paul Hubert was, and he further expanded on the mayor’s stance.
“Unequivocally, we are against any type of violence against women for sure and do not support or condone anyone who is involved in any form of domestic violence or violence against women,” said Hubert.
While the city may own the Budweiser Gardens building, it is managed and operated by U.S.-based Global Spectrum. As such Hubert noted, the city does not have any authority or purview over contracts in place with any of the acts coming into London to perform at Budweiser Gardens. “They operate the facility and we don’t have any say in those contracts and can’t involve ourselves in that.”
But at the end of the day, it is Londoners themselves who can have the loudest say, be that through peaceful protest, not attending the show or expressing their views to the promoter themselves, commented Hubert. “We live in a democratic society where you can express your opinion and we encourage them to do that.”