ROANOKE, Va. – A protest Monday called for Roanoke’s Berglund Center to cancel a scheduled July 17 concert headlined by outspoken pro-gun rocker Ted Nugent, whose fiery political comments have sparked both support and outrage.
About 30 people gathered in downtown Roanoke, holding signs voicing disapproval of Nugent’s scheduled performance. The protesters view many of his comments as hate speech, including comments about President Barack Obama and the survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Andy Parker organized the protest. He's the father of Alison Parker, a TV reporter who was shot and killed on live TV along with photographer Adam Ward in 2015.
He spoke to the protesters gathered around him about why he wants people to boycott every event at the Berglund Center, and why he disagrees with the decision from general manager Robyn Schon to have the concert.
“I was aghast, and I expressed my dismay to her in some very strong terms that I would not let this affront go without notice,” Parker said.
He focused on a dislike for Nugent's pro-gun stance and comments.
“It isn't about politics. It's about hate and evil,” Parker said.
Karen Cobb agrees. Her son died from gun violence, and she started the Roanoke chapter of Moms Demand Action.
“Number one, Ted Nugent is a bully. Number two, he spews his hate and he's just a very hateful person,” Cobb said.
Parker unveiled a mobile billboard he says will travel around downtown Roanoke Monday and Tuesday. He wants people to boycott the concert and the Berglund Center.
After the announcement, protesters went to the Berglund Center and staged a "die-in,” where they lied down in the ticket office lobby to symbolize deaths from gun violence.
Before the event, Schon told 10 News the venue doesn't want to discriminate against any performer.
“When we look at who we're booking, we don't look at personal values. That's not within the scope of how we decide who's playing here and who's not,” she said. “We are not interested in a political rally. This is music. Ted Nugent has a lot of fans.”
Parker met Schon for the first time at the protest. However, the two have some history together.
Schon called police in April, saying Parker sent her messages about scheduling Nugent that could be threatening. Roanoke police said they visited Parker’s Collinsville house and spoke with him about the messages before leaving.
Parker said at the time, he declined to meet with Schon face-to-face.
On Monday, they spoke and they hugged after Schon said she was very sorry for the loss of his daughter.
Both sides got along Monday. As for the July 17 concert, Parker said there will not be a protest that day. Schon says there will be appropriate security in place.
The concert will take place at the Berglund Performing Arts Theatre. Schon said Monday that tickets are still available, but she wouldn’t comment on how many have been sold.