Matisyahu Apologizes for Attacking Photographer

Journalist claims reggae star broke her camera's flash

December 22, 2011 4:50 PM ET
Matisyahu looks at Smeyne during his performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Rebecca Smeyne

Matisyahu reportedly kicked a photographer in the face during a concert on Wednesday night, breaking her camera's flash in the process. The singer was performing the second of his Festival of Light Hannukah gigs at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

"Sorry about last night. I totally snapped," Matisyahu wrote earlier today in a tweet, addressing allegations from Paper magazine photographer Rebecca Smeyne. "I wouldn't call it a kick, more like stepping into the crowd. And being that you've shot so many shows you should know how distracting a huge flash in your face is. Seemed like you were there everywhere I turned with that flash. Next time, be more sensitive to the performer."

"He looked straight at me stepped toward me and put his foot and all his weight on my face, as well as other parts of my body," Swenye wrote in an email to Rolling Stone. "It was a slow kick but when someone's foot lands on your face deliberately a kick is how I describe it. It was not a swift kick. He obviously wasnt just crowd surfing because as soon as he fell and I got up, he charged at me, just as I described in my account."

Following that, Matisyahu sent an official statement to Paper: "I regret what transpired when I tried to remove the camera from the photographer's hands last night. As an artist on stage, it is very distracting and disorienting to have a camera flashing in your face for an extended period of time. I reacted impulsively out of frustration and for that I apologize."

According to Smeyne, who says she was not even in the front row for the show, her press pass made no mention of restrictions on flash photography. Immediately after the incident, Smeyne demanded to speak to the singer's manager and called the police to file a report. Cops arrived while Matisyahu was still on stage, but they left without incident after Smeyne accepted a cash settlement for the damages from the artist's manager.

Matisyahu's show in Brooklyn was among the first since he shaved off his trademark beard earlier this week.  "I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules – lots of them – or else I would somehow fall apart," he wrote in a blog post explaining his decision.  "I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission."

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