Venue cancels John Hinckley Jr. concert, which shot President Reagan

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The John Hinckley Jr. concert in Brooklyn, an oddity that was to feature music from a man best known for trying to kill a US 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 lived in Virginia under restrictions since 2016, but was granted an absolute discharge which took effect on Wednesday. Mr Hinckley planned to use this release to mount what he called a ‘redemption tour’, playing his original music at venues across the country.

But that plan ran into hurdles as venues reneged on its scheduled concerts, including the Market Hotel, a concert venue in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn which released a statement on social media on Wednesday saying it was canceling the performance of Mr. Hinckley on July 8th.

“It’s not worth betting on the safety of our vulnerable communities than giving a guy a microphone and a paycheck from his art who didn’t have to earn it, who we don’t care about a artistic point of view and which disturbs people in a dangerously radicalized and reactionary climate,” the statement read.

The venue appeared to announce the decision with regret, writing in the statement that “this guy playing is not harming anyone in a practical way.”

“He’s in his 60s with an acoustic guitar,” the site said. The statement went on to say that while they believed ex-convicts and people with mental illnesses should be able to earn a chance to “fully reintegrate into society”, they made the decision after considering “threats and the very real and escalating hatred faced by our vulnerable people”. communities”.

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

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Mr Hinckley said this tour would be the first time he performed his original songs live and that he was disappointed with the cancellation, although he said he understood the concerns of the room for security.

Credit…by YouTube

“I watch the news like everyone else – we live in very, very scary times, to be honest,” Mr Hinckley said. “I would only have continued the show if I was going to feel safe at the show and feel the audience was going to be safe.”

A lawyer for Mr Hinckley, Barry Levine, wrote in an email that there had been ‘increasing threats’ which could put Mr Hinckley and the participants at risk and that he agreed with the decision to cancel.

But Mr Hinckley said a promoter he worked with was looking for a new venue in New York. Venues in Chicago and Hamden, Connecticut, which had previously scheduled performances by Mr. Hinckley also canceled the concerts.

In 1981, after seeing the film “Taxi Driver”, in which the main character plots to assassinate a presidential candidate, Mr. Hinckley said he had hatched his plan to kill Mr. Reagan in order 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 as the president left the hotel. The blows hit the president; James S. Brady, White House Press Secretary; Timothy J. McCarthy, a Secret Service agent; and Thomas K. Delahanty, a policeman. Mr Brady died of his injuries in 2014.

Mr. Hinckley was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Washington for more than two decades. The judge set a final release date of June 15, without any restrictions, after finding that Mr Hinckley had met several conditions, including mental stability.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute spoke out against Mr. Hinckley’s unconditional release, writing in a statement that the organization was “saddened and concerned that John Hinckley, Jr., will soon be released unconditionally and intends to pursue a musical career. for profit. »

Patti Davis, one of Reagan’s daughters, opposed the lifting of restrictions on Mr Hinckley, writing in a Washington Post op-ed last year that she feared ‘the man who wielded this gun and almost got his wish to assassinate the president might decide to contact me.

But Mr Hinckley’s supporters see an important message in society allowing him to perform publicly after decades of rehabilitation.

“That’s what the world needs to see, which is the ability to rehabilitate,” said Andreas Xirtus, a podcaster from California who supports Mr. Hinckley’s music. “Somehow his spirit is still there and positively impacts the music.”

Mr Levine said in the email that his client hopes the public will understand that he has changed since the 1980s.

“Although he knows his name is associated with an act of violence,” Mr. Levine wrote, “he hopes people of goodwill will understand that when he committed these acts he was wracked with disease. mental – a condition from which he no longer suffers.”

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