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Venue Cancels Concert of John Hinckley Jr., Who Shot President Reagan


The John Hinckley Jr. concert in Brooklyn, an oddity that was scheduled to feature the music of a person best known for attempting to kill a U.S. president, was canceled on Wednesday by the venue, which cited fears of a backlash in a “dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate.”

Mr. Hinckley, 67, who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and was found not guilty by reason of insanity, has been living in Virginia under restrictions since 2016, but was granted an unconditional release that took effect on Wednesday. Mr. Hinckley has been planning to make use of that release to mount what he has called a “redemption tour,” playing his original music at venues across the country.

But that plan has hit some roadblocks as venues have reneged on his scheduled concert events, including the Market Hotel, a concert hall within the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn that posted an announcement to social media on Wednesday saying it was canceling Mr. Hinckley’s July 8 performance.

“It is just not value of venture on the security of our vulnerable communities to present a man a microphone and a paycheck from his art who hasn’t needed to earn it, who we don’t care about on a creative level, and who upsets people in a dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate,” the statement said.

The venue looked as if it would announce the choice with regret, writing within the statement that “this guy performing harms nobody in any practical way.”

“This can be a sexagenarian with an acoustic guitar,” the venue said. The statement went on to say that although they believed ex-cons and folks with mental illnesses should give you the chance to earn a probability to “fully rejoin society,” they made the choice after reflecting on “very real and worsening threats and hate facing our vulnerable communities.”

In 2020, a federal judge in Washington ruled that Mr. Hinckley could begin publicly displaying his writings, artwork and music under his own name after his treatment team told the court about his frustrations around having to post his music online anonymously. Since then, Mr. Hinckley has uploaded videos of his original songs and covers to his YouTube channel, which has greater than 28,000 subscribers.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Hinckley said this tour could be the primary time he played his original songs live, and that he was disenchanted by the cancellation, although he said he understood the venue’s concerns about safety.

Credit…via YouTube

“I watch the news like everybody else — we’re living in very, very scary times, to be honest,” Mr. Hinckley said. “I might have only gone on with the show if I used to be going to feel protected on the show and feel that the audience was going to be protected.”

A lawyer for Mr. Hinckley, Barry Levine, wrote in an email that there had been “mounting threats” that might put Mr. Hinckley and the attendees in danger and that he agreed with the choice to cancel.

But Mr. Hinckley said that a promoter he was working with was in search of a latest venue in Recent York City. Venues in Chicago and Hamden, Conn., that had previously scheduled performances from Mr. Hinckley have also canceled the concert events.

In 1981, after seeing the film “Taxi Driver,” during which the principal character plots to assassinate a presidential candidate, Mr. Hinckley said he hatched his plan to kill Mr. Reagan in an effort to impress Jodie Foster. He waited outside the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981, where Mr. Reagan was giving a speech, and fired six shots because the president left the hotel. The shots hit the president; James S. Brady, the White House press secretary; Timothy J. McCarthy, a Secret Service agent; and Thomas K. Delahanty, a police officer. Mr. Brady died of his injuries in 2014.

Mr. Hinckley was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Washington for greater than twenty years. The judge set a final June 15 release date, with none restrictions, after finding that Mr. Hinckley had met several conditions, including mental stability.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has come out in opposition of Mr. Hinckley’s unconditional release, writing in an announcement that the organization was “saddened and anxious that John Hinckley, Jr., will soon be unconditionally released and intends to pursue a music profession for profit.”

Patti Davis, considered one of Reagan’s daughters, has opposed the lifting of restrictions on Mr. Hinckley, writing in an op-ed in The Washington Post last yr that she feared “the person who wielded that gun and almost got his wish of assassinating the president could determine to contact me.”

But supporters of Mr. Hinckley see a vital message in society allowing him to perform publicly after many years of rehabilitation.

“That is what the world must see, which is the flexibility to rehabilitate,” said Andreas Xirtus, a podcaster from California who supports Mr. Hinckley’s music. “Someway his spirit remains to be there and is making a positive impact with music.”

Mr. Levine said in the e-mail that his client hopes that the general public understands that he has modified for the reason that Nineteen Eighties.

“Although he knows his name is related to an act of violence,” Mr. Levine wrote, “he hopes that individuals of goodwill will understand that when he committed those acts he was ravaged by mental disease — a condition from which he not suffers.”

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