SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Comedian Dave Chappelle is bringing his act to Santa Rosa this week, an appearance that is not without controversy and protest. Chappelle's past jokes about the transgender community have local activists demanding the shows be canceled.
A popular and controversial comedian, Chappelle is scheduled to perform at Santa Rosa's Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. His four shows this week sold out within hours.
"I'd say my organization is upset and appalled by it," said Jennifer Rihl, TransLife Sonoma County senior member.
Rihl is demanding Chappelle's shows be canceled because of the comedian's past jokes aimed at the transgender community.
VIDEO: Comedian Jo Koy's upcoming film 'Easter Sunday' shines light on Filipino American culture
"Espousing the transphobia he does, it normalizes transphobia," said Rihl.
The issue is important for LGBTQ+ advocates because of the potential for discrimination and violence against trans people.
An online petition to keep Chappelle from performing was growing in numbers.
"We want the LBC to support the local community. Booking him is a slap in the face to our community," said Rihl.
"I think the important thing to remember is free speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences," said Orlando O'Shea, TransLife Sonoma County founding member.
RELATED: Bruce Springsteen fans are upset about his concert ticket prices
The Luther Burbank Center says Live Nation rented its theater for Chapelle's shows.
In a statement, the center said: "The LBC Has been a gathering place for over 40 years, working with the community and a number of presenters to provide a place for diverse voices to be heard. We always appreciate feedback from our community, and we have shared the collective concerns we've received with Live Nation. In addition, we have been inviting those who have expressed their thoughts to keep the conversation going, so we are able to find ways to better support and elevate the voices of our entire community."
"It's the strategy 'do it now, forgiveness later.' That dog's not doing to hunt with our group," said O'Shea.
Chappelle's show in Minneapolis was canceled and relocated to another venue last week in response to protests.
RELATED: Rapper Kid Cudi walks off stage mid-set at 'Rolling Loud' after being hit with trash
Local comedian Juan Carlos Arenas says he supports Chappelle.
"Not since Richard Pryor that we have had somebody like Chappelle, so free to speak his mind despite the backlash," said Arenas.
But the trans community isn't backing down.
"I'm a proponent of free speech, yes. Should he be allowed to? No," said Rihl.
Chappelle is also scheduled to perform in Napa this weekend.
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live