6:49 AM PDT, June 17, 2022
A music venue in Brooklyn canceled a sold-out concert featuring John Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate Present Ronald Reagan in 1981 and was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Hinckley, 67, had been under the supervision of legal and mental health specialists for 41 years after firing shots that hit the then U.S president, according to the LA Times.
A judge agreed to lift restrictions on Hinckley in 2016 if he maintained mental stability, and he has been living in Virginia since, reports the Associated Press.
The venue, Market Hotel, located in Bushwick, posted a statement on its social media platforms on June 15, stating that moving forward with the event is not worth risking “the safety of our vulnerable communities.”
“After a lot of serious consideration, we are canceling the scheduled event at Market Hotel with John Hinckley,” the first line of the announcement states. “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.’ We aren’t living in that kind of free country anymore, for better or for worse.”
This statement came on the same day Hinckley was granted an unconditional release.
“After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!” he tweeted.
Hinckley told The New York Times that he had been planning to use this release to start playing his original music around the country as part of a “redemption tour.”
In recent years, Hinckley turned to music, uploading videos of original songs to his YouTube channel.
“I watch the news like everybody else — we’re living in very, very scary times, to be honest,” Hinckley told The New York Times, following the show’s cancellation. “I would have only gone on with the show if I was going to feel safe at the show and feel that the audience was going to be safe.”
The statement from Market Hotel stated that Hinckley’s tour, which had been booked through a third-party promoter, “sends a message that mental health issues and a criminal past can be recovered from and atoned for, after serving one’s debt to society and getting real treatment.”
Market Hotel seems to imply that Hinckley’s artistic work lacks a high-enough level of mastery.
“We might feel differently if we believed the music was important and transcended the infamy, but that’s just not the case here (though any artist can get there — even someone who committed awful crimes and suffered mental illness).”