The Market Hotel announced Wednesday that it will no longer be hosting John Hinckley, Jr. — the man who shot at and tried to kill Ronald Reagan in 1981 — at an upcoming July concert. However, the venue is not so convinced about the decision to remove the “provocative happening” from its calendar.
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“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,’ ” the venue wrote. “We aren’t living in that kind of free country anymore, for better or for worse.”
Hinckley — who was granted a full unconditional release from prison earlier this month after serving more than 30 years in a mental hospital — was set to play at the venue next month.
Tickets for the event featuring the “sexagenerian with an acoustic guitar” were reportedly sold out.
“I just talked to the promoter and he said Market Hotel canceled because they were getting threats,” Hinckley wrote in an email to Rolling Stone. “I’ve now had 3 shows canceled… I was really looking forward to it.”
He added, “My Redemption tour is becoming the cancellation tour.”
In their message announcing the decision, the Market Hotel wrote that they believed it was okay for a venue to have a “stunt booking” like this for the mere sake of hosting it, but wrote that it would not be worth it due to “some very real and worsening threats” to the venue and its community.
“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 note read.
The venue’s statement said it believed Hinckley’s scheduled performance would send 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.”
“Make no mistake: canceling this concert will not deter future assassins and will have no effect on mass shootings,” the venue wrote. “It’s also ludicrous to claim allowing the show might inspire some future killer… We’re a little room and it’s just a concert. IT does not ‘matter’ beyond the strong emotions it has been used to stoke.”
The Market Hotel news comes as Hinckley was set to be given full unconditional release from prison after a judge announced last September that he could leave prison after exhibiting good behavior.
Hinckley, an aspiring singer-songwriter, spent over 30 years in a mental hospital after a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting of Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and Washington Metropolitan Police officer Thomas Delahanty.
While everyone survived the shooting, Brady suffered the most severe injuries and was left partially paralyzed (when he died in 2014, the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide because the cause was related to his injuries, but prosecutors declined to press further charges against Hinckley).
Hinckley was pursuing a musical career on YouTube, where he shared his music anonymously, but given his unconditional release, he had booked several concerts for the “John Hinckley Redemption Tour.”
In 2020, Hinckley emailed Rolling Stone about his musical endeavors, saying, “I’m now pursuing a music career. I write country songs mostly and I’ve just finished two songs…I’m hoping you’ll take an interest in my music career.”