Martha Reeves walked offstage at a show in London on Thursday night (September 3) after being racially abused by a member of the audience.
The Motown legend was performing at the Brooklyn Bowl with her band The Vandellas when an audience member allegedly shouted the n-word at the performers.
Journalist Charles Thomson, who was in attendance, told ITV News that a group of six people in their 20s, who appeared drunk, were “causing trouble from the beginning of the show”.
Thomson stated that a man was “shouting at the stage, using the n-word”, adding, “Martha played another song – and after the song was finished he shouted the n-word again.”
A member of the audience, taking offence at the comments, became embroiled in a fight with a female member of the gang, Thomson added. “The girls started fighting with everyone and one was left on the floor. At this point Martha said we cannot perform with this going on – so she walked off and the crowd turned on the group.”
A video from the incident, shared by The Evening Standard, shows Reeves telling the audience members, “We want the blues, not a brawl”. Reeves and her band returned to the stage after a brief interval.
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that three people were taken into custody following the incident. A statement reads, “Officers attended and a woman, aged 40 years, alleged that she had been assaulted at the location. The London Ambulance Service [LAS] were on scene when officers arrived treating another woman, 24 years, who had received a minor head injury.”
“Officers established that four people were believed to have made racial remarks against two other people who had attended the event, leading to an altercation. The woman attended to by LAS was arrested and was taken into custody after receiving treatment at hospital. Two men aged 25 and 24 were arrested at the location for racially aggravated public order. All three suspects are currently in custody at a south London police station.”
Reeves later described the incident on Twitter as a “momentary distruption,” adding, “Love always triumphs!”