Metro

Protest goes on after cancellation of Bill Cosby shows

Feminist groups target comedian

Bill Cosby performed at the Buell Theater in Denver on Jan. 17. Credit: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press
Bill Cosby performed at the Buell Theater in Denver on Jan. 17.

Despite snow, bone-chilling winds, and the cancellation of the Bill Cosby shows they were targeting, a group of about 20 protesters gathered Sunday evening in downtown Boston outside the Wilbur Theatre to speak in support of survivors of sexual assault.

The comedian cited the weekend snowstorm as the reason for the cancellation of both performances on Sunday.

Two feminist groups in the city planned the protest, amid claims that Cosby sexually assaulted more than two dozen women during his career.

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“Just because the show is canceled doesn’t mean we’re going to stop protesting rape culture,” said Brandie Skorker, a 28-year-old East Boston resident and one of the protest organizers.

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At the protest, attendees held handmade signs, many reading “Don’t give Cosby a pass.” They huddled together, many covered with so many winter accessories only their eyes showed.

Alexa Reed, 40, of Saugus said she decided to join protesters to show victims of abuse that she believes them.

“I am showing support,” she said as she passed out hand warmers to attendees. “He can’t get away with this.”

Nicole Sullivan, one of the group’s organizers, took a similar stance.

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“It doesn’t matter that it’s cold, and that it’s snowing,” she said. “This is an epidemic. He needs to be taken down.”

Cosby called off the shows on Sunday morning.

“I have decided to cancel for your travel safety,” Cosby said in a statement. “No need to worry, I will be back soon to raise the roof with laughter.”

Cosby was slated to perform back-to-back shows at the Tremont Street venue at 5 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.

Attendees at the protest read statements from Cosby’s accusers over a megaphone. Survivors of assault were encouraged to share their stories publicly.

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At a 2 p.m. news conference, retired model and actress Helen Gumpel, formerly known as Helen Selby, spoke out against Cosby. She detailed an unwanted sexual advance in his dressing room on the set of “The Cosby Show,” according to her lawyer.

“I’m an advocate for the women who have been drugged and raped by him,” Gumpel said. “I needed to speak now because he is so arrogant. We can’t let him go through with these concerts. He is a rapist.”

Andrew Wyatt, a spokesman for Cosby, said the decision to cancel was unrelated to the protests. He said that Cosby is concerned with the “treacherous” weather and that he was working with the theater to reschedule. The Wilbur announced that all refunds will be available at point of purchase.

“Mr. Cosby is dedicated to his fans, the protesters, and human rights issues,” Wyatt said. “This is all about safety.”

Wyatt said he had no knowledge of Gumpel’s event and declined to comment on the allegations.

Despite snow, bone-chilling winds, and the cancellation of the Bill Cosby shows they were targeting, a group of about 20 protestors gathered Sunday outside the Wilbur Theatre.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
A group of about 20 protestors gathered Sunday outside the Wilbur Theatre, where Bill Cosby had been scheduled to perform.

Jacqueline Tempera
can be reached at jacqueline.tempera@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jacktemp