ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — “Reawaken America Tour,” the event previously canceled by Main Street Armory owner Scott Donaldson, will instead be held in Batavia.
Reawaken America is a political tour that has been hosted in various cities across the nation. The same event was scheduled to come to Rochester in August at the Main Street Armory.
An online petition calling for the owner of the venue to shut its doors to event organizers was formed shortly after the tour’s announcement. It gained traction among city officials and community leaders, many of which referred to the event as “damaging and hateful.”
“We don’t want it here. We don’t want it in Rochester. We don’t want it in the county of Monroe. We don’t want it in the State of New York,” said Monroe Co. Legislator Mercedes Vazquez Simmons.
Reawaken America founder and event organizer Clay Clark said that they’d been trying to relocate their Rochester stop for the past 90 days. Clark said he is not surprised by the decision, and venue issues are a challenge they’ve faced more than once on the tour.
Clark said that “Episode #14” has been relocated to a venue in Macedon for August 12 and 13, the same dates as the Rochester stop. All tickets bought for the Rochester location will also be honored in Macedon, should participants choose to go, he said.
But according to a Facebook post from the venue named by Clark, the event will not be held there.
According to representatives that work with Clark, the organization admitted to miscommunication when referring to the relocation of the event. On Tuesday, representatives said they are still in search of a venue. They also said an announcement on a new venue will be made at some point.
A day later, Cornerstone Church in Batavia announced they will be hosting the event. Church personnel says the tour will run from August 12 through 13 — the same dates originally posted.
The lead pastor there says plans were made Tuesday after Rochester’s cancellation. “Reawaken America Tour” organizers say sold tickets will be honored in Batavia.
The event, titled “Episode #14” on the poster, lists several high-profile supporters of former President Donald Trump, including General Michael Flynn, who was pardoned after his conviction for lying about connections to a Russian diplomat.
Donaldson issued the following written statement regarding the cancelation of the event in Rochester:
I’d like to say that the Main Street Armory is an equal opportunity and non-political venue. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, etc. I believe everyone has the right to their own opinions and beliefs. (In response) to the outpour(ing) of concern from our community, both good and bad, I have decided after careful thought to cancel The Reawaken America Tour that was scheduled in August 2022. I have always appreciated the support from our city and I believe it is my turn to show my support back. I hope to see you all at future events here. (Apart from the ones who have threatened myself and staff, you are not welcome)
Main Street Armory’s position on the issue was highlighted nationally. Over the weekend, the Washington Post published an article on how alternative pop group Japanese Breakfast decided to cancel its shows at the Main Street Armory upon learning that it would also be hosting the far-right tour.
In a Tweet Thursday afternoon, the band thanked the community for reaching out.
Rochester band Joywave also canceled their show at Main Street Armory over the tour, and threatened to never perform at the venue again unless the event was canceled.
Following the announcement Monday, all three bandmembers issued this joint statement:
Joywave thanks The Main Street Armory for listening to the local community and canceling The Reawaken America Tour. The events of January 6th, 2021 were upsetting to all Americans regardless of political belief and shook the foundation of our democracy.
Those forces do not belong in Monroe County. While we wish the event had never been booked in the first place, we applaud the decision to cancel and keep our community safe from extremism.
As of 2:09 p.m. Tuesday, Reawaken America’s website still lists Rochester as a tour stop.
Statement from Monroe Co. Legislature President Sabrina LaMar
“When I first informed about the ‘Reawaken America’ event that was scheduled to take place on August 12th and 13th at the Main Street Armory, I was troubled by its potentially negative effect on an already fragile community. This tour features a who’s who of far-right religious extremists, Trump aides, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and other reckless figures.
As I said to Mr. Donaldson in my letter to him on May 23, 2022, this nationalist tour has left in its wake a trail of dangerous disinformation that can lead to increased bigotry, hate, and, at its most extreme, violence.
With the massacre at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo still fresh in peoples’ minds–and what could have potentially happened at the Tops supermarket on West Avenue here in Rochester–this was neither the time nor the place for such an event.
It’s important to remember that the 18-year-old young man who committed that atrocity espoused some of the same dangerous ideas touted by many of the speakers scheduled to appear here in Rochester.
I applaud Scott Donaldson listening to the Rochester community and cancelling this divisive event. This cancellation shows what is possible when the community works together for the benefit of everyone.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.
Editor’s Note 7/18: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the tour dates are August 13 and 14. Actually, the tour dates are August 12 and 13. This page has since been updated with the correct information.
Editor’s Note 7/18: The name of the Macedon venue and the Facebook post made by the venue have been removed from this article at the request of the venue owner.