A Brooklyn music venue announced that they are canceling a scheduled performance by John Hinkley Jr., claiming that having the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan perform was not worth the potential risk to the community posed by those offended by the event.
In a lengthy social media post, the Market Hotel explained that they scheduled the concert because they felt it would be an “interesting” and “memorable” show. The New York City establishment made clear that they disagree with the idea that they should not be able to hold such an event, and made the decision after weighing the pros and cons.
“Hosting provocative happenings for its own sake is valid, and should be part of any venue’s reason to exist,” the Market Hotel said in a statement posted to Instagram, adding that Hinckley’s performance “sends a message that mental health issues and a criminal past can be recovered from and atoned for[.]”
Hinckley, 67, is a free man, getting his full release on Wednesday, 41 years after shooting Reagan, then-White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service officer, and a police officer.
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Hinckley was inspired by the Martin Scorsese film “Taxi Driver” when he shot the newly elected Reagan in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity, but spent more than 30 years in a mental hospital.
A judge had granted Hinckley a conditional release to his mother’s home in 2016, and those conditions were dropped this week.
Hoping for a music career, Hinckley had booked the performance at the Market Hotel for July 8, which sold out.
“A big thank you to everyone who helped me get my unconditional release. What a long strange trip it has been. Now it’s time to rock and roll,” Hinckley, who sings and plays guitar, tweeted June 1.
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In announcing the cancelation of the July 8 show, Market Hotel indicated that they made the decision begrudgingly.
“There was a time when a place could host a thing like this, maybe a little offensive, and the reaction would be ‘it’s just a guy playing a show, who does it hurt – it’s a free country,'” they said. “We aren’t living in that kind of free country anymore, for better or for worse.”
In their statement, the venue said they opted to cancel “after being presented with and reflecting on some very real and worsening threats and hate facing our vulnerable communities … and after seeing the nature of who this booking has antagonized, and who and what else those same folks are upset about.”
They insisted that the show itself would have been harmless. “This is a sexagenarian with an acoustic guitar,” they said. “”Make no mistake: cancelling this concert will not deter future assassins and will have no effect on mass shootings, and it certainly won’t reverse the awfulness of what Hinckley did 40 years ago.”
Ultimately, the Market Hotel acknowledged that scheduling Hinckley to perform was “stunt booking” based on Hinckley’s past violence, and given that they do not believe his music transcends his reputation, it was not worth going forward with the show as a matter of principle.
“It is not worth a gamble on the safety of our vulnerable communities to give a guy a microphone and a paycheck from his art who hasn’t had to earn it, who we don’t care about on an artistic level, and who upsets people in a dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate,” the said.
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace and Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.