MONTCLAIR, NJ – Singer, rock musician, Ted Nugent is scheduled to perform at the Wellmont Theater despite a growing number of protestors. Grassroots organizers, labor unions, and individuals have expressed that they plan to protest the Ted Nugent performance scheduled for July 22.
Elected officials and protest organizers have acknowledged that Nugent has a First Amendment right to Free Speech, but have taken issue with his publicized comments that were described as ‘offensive’ by many. Despite the controversy surrounding some of Nugent’s publicized statements, he also has many supporters.
When learning about Nugent’s scheduled Wellmont Theater performance, New Jersey Director of CWA, Hetty Rosenstein, stated that her initial reaction was to notify the establishment of her concern. She expresed that she tried calling the theater for over two months. Leaving at least 4 messages at the Wellmont box office, Rosenstein further mentioned that she never received a call back before deciding to organize.
Wellmont Theater Executive Director, Mark Josephson responded on Wednesday evening. “We've been receiving phone calls and messages, but we don't always respond to every message we get, it’s just impossible. I also wasn't trying to be evasive, but I just got the message. Our phone system is cranky sometimes and we are thinking about upgrading the system,” said Josephson.
Besides being a Reality TV star, Outdoor Channel Host and rock musician/singer, Nugent is also known for being vocal on matters concerning hunting, conservation, and gun ownership rights, thus earning him both protestors as well as supporters. He has also been a board member of the NRA since 1995.
CWA and BlueWaveNJ have teamed up with other local and national organizations to organize a protest outside of the Wellmont Theater concert. Another organization, NJCitizenAction has confirmed that they are involved in co-organizing the protest.
Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action, said, "There is no place for hate, racism, homophobia, violence or intolerance. Not in Montclair, New Jersey or any place in this country. Ted Nugent 's comments are despicable and the management of the Wellmont should not be providing a platform for someone who spews such garbage. We are urging our members to come out on Tuesday evening to protest Nugent's backwards and extremist views and to urge the Wellmont to cancel his appearance."
As of Thursday, Nugent at the Wellmont ticket sales were less than 50% sold with 9 tickets available for resale.
CWA has circulated fliers and posted to their ‘Protest Ted Nugent in Montclair’ facebook page some of the statements that Nugent has made.
In a January 18 interview, Nugent, who is also known as The Motor City Madman, had to abruptly end the news interview below after referring to President Obama as a ‘chimpanzee’ and Hillary Clinton as having 'spare scrotums'.
In February of 2014, NY Magazine published a Tweet from Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) stating the following about Nugent’s publicly expressed comments, “Ted Nugent’s derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize.”
Josephson added, “I personally sympathize with protesters, but we also know that he's a controversial figure. Canceling the show is not an option.” “He’s still going to play here. The Wellmont Theater is a freedom of speech place.”
After learning of Josephson's comments on behalf of the Wellmont Theater, and his expressed intent to allow Nugent to continue to perform, Rosenstein said, “This isn’t a First Amendment issue. Nobody is precluding Ted Nugent from speaking. It is a question as to whether or not the Wellmont Theatre in a community such as Essex County, New Jersey brings in or seeks to make a profit from a notorious bigot.”
In August of 2007, Nugent is recorded during a live performance calling Senator Hillary Clinton a, “…worthless b*tch…” He went further to add that Senator Barbara Boxer, “…might want to suck on my machine gun…”
Marcia Marley, President of BlueWaveNJ, said, "While we support Mr. Nugent's right to free expression under the First Amendment, we also support every citizen’s right to protest bigotry and intolerance. We hope others will join us in speaking out."
Among the supporters of the protestors is Montclair Deputy Mayor Robert Russo, who expressed, "I will join the others on Tuesday to condemn this performer's comments and protest his presence in Montclair."
After learning that Live Nation was promoting the concert, phone calls to media relations officials at Live Nation were returned and officials declined to comment.
“We’re not in the business of censoring people or telling Live Nation how to run their business. They are employed by us. The Wellmont Theater is privately owned by New York real estate investors who do not wish to get involved in anything controversial. They like to stay private," said Josephson. “Montclair is a liberal town and we would like to regard ourselves as members in good standing of the community, so if people want to speak their opinions, then more power to them. They have every right and are welcome to protest, just as other people have the right to speak their minds".
Rosenstein continued, “Ted Nugent preys on outrageous opinions. He uses his musical platform to express hatred and incite people. We have a First Amendment right, but more importantly, a community responsibility to say that his conduct is not acceptable in our community.”