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September 16, 2013

Gordon officials cancel controversial concert

SALEM — A performance by the group Death in June has been canceled for September.

Gordon College, which has a contract with the city of Salem to manage Old Town Hall, announced Friday that it is canceling the controversial concert it booked at the historic venue for this Thursday.

The announcement came a day after the Christian college in Wenham said it had “strong reservations” about the event after learning that the two-person acoustic group it hired has been the target of protests and controversies in the past over allegations that it uses Nazi images and symbols.

The Sept. 19 concert had been sold out at Old Town Hall, which holds 200.

Gordon College Vice President Rick Sweeney said the decision was made after learning from Salem police of vandalism at a recent Death in June concert on the West Coast and of threats in Salem.

“After consultation with the Salem chief of police and the mayor’s office, and with management responsibility for the preservation of Old Town Hall — a federally designated landmark on the National Register of Historic Places — Gordon College is canceling the rental agreement,” Sweeney said in a statement.

The promoter, Thomas Nolan, said he may sue.

He also strongly denied that Death in June has any ties to fascist or Nazi ideology. He said the group plays “romantic acoustic music” and uses symbols and images from a variety of sources.

“First, I’m going to deal with the school civilly, but if not, it’s going to be a legal matter because they have a contract with me,” Nolan said in a telephone interview.

Gordon officials contend their contract gives them the right to cancel the event for “extenuating circumstances,” which would include the right to protect Old Town Hall and the public.

“This decision is based on several factors that came to light this week after we learned the name of the band performing and the reputation for unrest that has accompanied many of their performances,” Sweeney said in the statement.

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