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Dave Chappelle Gem City Shine Oregon District Benefit Show Draws Crowd, Celebrities

Thousands of people were in downtown Dayton Sunday for comedian Dave Chappelle's Gem City Shine benefit show. 

Chappelle and the city of Dayton organized the recently announced concert to raise money for The Dayton Foundation’s Oregon District Tragedy Fund, and help hard-hit Oregon District businesses recover after the Aug. 4 attack. 

The seconds-long shooting rampage by a 24-year-old masked gunman killed nine people and injured more than three dozen others outside Ned Peppers bar in the Oregon District. Police then shot and killed the attacker.

Performers included Stevie Wonder, Talib Kweli, Thundercat, Chance The Rapper and other national acts, and other comics, including former Daily Show host Jon Stewart.

Dave Chappelle kicked off the show from the stage, leading a chant of Ohio, with "O-H." And the crowd chanted back, "I-O."   

"And we are not just doing this for our city. We are doing this for every victim of every mass shooting in our country," he said, prompting cheers and applause. 

Before the benefit show got underway, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley spoke, keeping the focus on guns.

"I hope that we become the city that changed the way gun violence is dealt with in this country. That this is the city that the turn happened. This is the city where we see change in Washington and change in Columbus," the mayor told reporters.

Heather Schaffer came to the concert with friends. She says she frequents the Oregon District and says it's critical to stand with the neighborhood in the wake of the violence.

"The idea is to take this horrible situation and turn it around, and I think that’s very important. So, we can take that stigma away as best we can," she says. "We still have to remember what happened, but by coming out and supporting the businesses, this is a way for us to take that back."

City crews blocked off streets in downtown Dayton, and security was expected to be tight throughout the day Sunday.

Long lines stretched for blocks as people waited to pass through security checkpoints with metal detectors and enter a gated area near the main stage.

Organizers capped the number of attendees at 20,000 and reserved tickets for Dayton-area residents through a zip code-verification system. The Downtown Dayton Partnership reported overwhelming demand, and by Sunday morning no tickets remained.

The lines outside Gem City Shine were long throughout the afternoon.
Credit Jason Reynolds / WYSO
The lines outside Gem City Shine were long throughout the afternoon.

Marissa Santiago and her brother weren’t able to get tickets but they came downtown anyway hoping to find a way into the show.

Santiago says she’s been hanging out in the Oregon District for five years now and says she hopes the recent shooting won’t destroy the neighborhood’s community spirit.

"It doesn’t matter where you came from or what you look like or where you grew up. We’re all family here. There’s no hate down here, other than what just happened, and because of that we all pulled together now and there’s even more love," Santiago says.

The partnership’s Sandy Gudorf says the idea for the show was born after the shooting when Chappelle contacted the city offering to help.

“He just wanted to do something special for our community. He called the mayor's office and she put a team together around this and very quickly put an event together that should have taken months to plan, but we worked to get it done,” Gudorf says.

While the event was free, it included opportunities for attendees to donate money by buying commemorative t-shirts for a minimum donation of $20, and other items. 
The Downtown Dayton Partnership reports it'll take a few more days to tally the amount of money raised through the sale of beer and other items. 

The crowd at Gem City Shine.
Credit Jason Reynolds / WYSO
The crowd at Gem City Shine.

Celebrities including performer Kanye West were spotted in Dayton over the weekend in advance of the Gem City Shine event.

West joined Chappelle for a choir-led outdoor "Sunday Service" church service in RiverScape MetroPark.

Some family members of the shooting victims, and first responders attended the event, which drew a large crowd and featured live music and singing. 

The show at Fifth Street and Wayne Avenue in Dayton ran from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

City crews were expected to reopen surrounding streets by Monday.

The Dayton Foundation reports the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund has so far raised nearly $2 million. 

A new 16-member volunteer Community Oversight Committee will now determine how those funds will be dispersed. Members of the group include some Oregon District business leaders and community activists. 

To contribute, visit fund 8375 at the Dayton Foundation.  
Gem City Shine organizers include the Oregon District Business Association, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the city of Dayton, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, the Dayton Police Department, the Dayton-Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Dayton Foundation and the Greater Dayton RTA.

Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding America initiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.
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