Sacha Baron Cohen appears to crash right-wing event by posing as country singer
By Caitlin O’Kane
June 29, 2020 / 5:00 PM / CBS News
Sacha Baron Cohen apparently crashed an event being held by the right-wing group The Three Percenters, according to witnesses and video of the event. The Three Percenters — described as an anti-government extremist group by the Anti-Defamation League — held the rally-style “March for Our Rights” event on Saturday in Olympia, Washington.
Witnesses said a man, now believed to be Cohen, entered the rally disguised as a country singer and took to the stage to perform at the event. Then he tried to get the crowd to join in singing along to verses full of vulgar, violent and racist lyrics as the band plays along.
In a video posted on Twitter, event organizer Matt Marshall said musical guests for the event were booked by another group, “Back to USA.” Marshall said when the “second band started playing their set… they started playing an incredibly racist song,” he said. “At that moment, we realized our organizers were nowhere to be found.”
Marshall said other organizers “tried to pull the plug” on the performance, but the band had armed security on stage. “All of the security turned on us. We bum rushed them, got through security, unplugged the mic, got the guy off stage,” Marshall said, then the band and entire security team left the event.
Marshall then says he believes the man on stage was Sacha Baron Cohen.
A video posted to YouTube by another attendee shows a man on stage, who appears to be Cohen in disguise, singing an offensive song about injecting people with coronavirus. He mentions former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Dr. Anthony Fauci and others in the song, which goes on for more than eight minutes.
Another video shows attendees becoming disturbed by the lyrics to the song and yelling at the man on stage to stop, with some recognizing him as Cohen.
The “Borat” actor has frequently gone undercover to disrupt events and prank people to expose and lampoon those he deems worthy of public humiliation.
In his 2018 Showtime show “Who is America,” Cohen used that shtick against figures like Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, whom he tricked into taking a “pedophile detector” test, and a Georgia state lawmaker who had to resign after shouting the N-word and dropping his pants on camera.
It is unclear if Cohen was filming for “Who is America” during the Three Percenters event. CBS News has reached out to Showtime and is awaiting response.
On Saturday, the Washington Three Percenters posted a statement on the group’s Facebook page denouncing the song. “We of the WA3% were appalled at the performance of an entertainer adorned in clown-face, who — much to our group’s mutual repugnance — voiced a series of racist and antisemitic jokes and songs, while on the stand,” the post reads. “This display of disgusting antics was neither condoned nor accepted by WA3%, and we disavow any affiliation with this lamentable individual.”
In his Twitter video, Marshall, who is running for state representative in Washington as a Republican, blames Democrats for orchestrating the stunt “to make us look bad.”
CBS News has reached out to the Washington Three Percenters and Marshall for more information.
The reference to “three percent” in the group’s name “stems from the dubious historical claim that only 3 percent of American colonists fought against the British during the War of Independence,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
First published on June 29, 2020 / 5:00 PM
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Caitlin O’Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.