A Brooklyn music venue canceled a long-scheduled sold-out concert with John Hinckley Jr. just hours before he was released from court supervision on Wednesday.
Hinckley had been under the supervision of legal and mental health professionals for 41 years after an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. (The attempt also crippled Reagan’s publicist James Brady, who died in 2014 .) Despite Hinckley’s release from supervision on Wednesday, the Market Hotel, which provides a “medium-sized independent community stage,” said it would no longer play the July 8 show, citing security concerns and “the ‘worsening threats and hatred facing our vulnerable communities’.
Hinckley, 67, was acquitted of insanity in 1982 but spent decades in a Washington psychiatric hospital. A judge has agreed to lift restrictions on him if he remains mentally stable in the Virginia community where he has lived since 2016, the Associated Press reported.
Hinckley celebrated his release from surveillance on Wednesday in a tweet that read, “FREEDOM AT LAST.”
In a statement posted on Instagram, the Market Hotel said the event was hosted by “a third-party promoter” and that the hotel approved it “because it looked like an interesting gathering and a memorable evening.”
“Hosting provocative events for one’s own sake is valid and should be part of the raison d’être of any venue,” the statement said. “The tour also sends a message that mental health issues and a criminal past can be reclaimed and atoned for, after paying off one’s debt to society and getting real treatment.
“There was a time when a place could welcome something like this, maybe a little offensive, and the reaction would be ‘he’s just a guy putting on a show, hurting – it’s a free country “,” the statement read, adding, “We don’t live in that kind of free country anymore, for better or for worse.”
The venue said it bears repeating that “this guy playing is not harming anyone in a practical way.”
The singer-songwriter has released his music on streaming sites and his YouTube channel.
“He’s in his 60s with an acoustic guitar. All the outrage and concern is entirely about the Quotation message he sends end of quote“The statement read. “Make no mistake: Canceling this concert will not deter would-be murderers or have any effect on mass shootings, and it certainly will not reverse the horror of what Hinckley did 40 years ago.
“It’s also ludicrous to claim that allowing the show to inspire a future killer – ‘I want to be like Hinckley – he has to play Market Hotel.’ We are a small venue and this is just a concert. It ‘doesn’t matter’ – beyond the strong emotions it was used to stir up,” the statement read.
Read the full statement below: