Standard-Examiner

Megaplex Theatres cancels on Utah's March For Our Lives town hall

Wednesday , July 11, 2018 - 2:58 PM

Cameron Kasky, center, speaks during a news conference, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. A day after graduating from high school, a group of Florida school shooting survivors has announced a multistate bus tour to "get young people educated, registered and motivated to vote."

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Cameron Kasky, center, speaks during a news conference, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. A day after graduating from high school, a group of Florida school shooting survivors has announced a multistate bus tour to "get young people educated, registered and motivated to vote."

SOUTH JORDAN — Megaplex Theatres have canceled a town hall in South Jordan organized by March for Our Lives activists due to security concerns. 

“When the event was initially booked, the full context wasn’t fully understood and now it appears to be escalating into a potentially contentious situation where additional security will be required,” Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of Megaplex Theatres, said in a statement. 

RELATED: Parkland students to stop in Utah as part of nationwide tour

The town hall is part of the “Road to Change” bus tour, a nationwide event launched June 15 in Chicago by the Parkland, Florida, shooting survivors and March for Our Lives organizers, including Emma González, David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin and Cameron Kasky.

They were expected to join local activists Saturday evening at the Megaplex Theatres in South Jordan.

“After careful consideration, we have decided to cancel the event at Megaplex because our venues are focused on providing a safe, world-class movie experience for our guests, which include families and children,” the statement reads. “We are refunding all deposits and will assist in helping the organizer find an appropriate location for this event.”

On Tuesday, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the Utah Gun Exchange, an online gun marketplace, was encouraging members to attend the town hall. The Utah Gun Exchange has been following the “Road to Change” tour throughout the country, holding counter-rallies advocating for gun rights. 

In March, the Utah Gun Exchange organized a counter-protest to the March for Our Lives event held in Salt Lake City. 

RELATED: 'Never again': Thousands of students demand gun control in Salt Lake City march

The Utah Gun Exchange released a statement Wednesday evening saying it was “concerned to hear that March for Our Lives SLC has had to cancel its event due to the loss of venue” and encouraged the group to hold the town hall at a Utah Gun Exchange facility.

“As it has been claimed that there are threats from “outside groups” of “escalation” – escalation which we do not condone – we are happy to add value to our original offer and pay for additional security to ensure safe and peaceful dialogue at our location,” the statement reads. “We want safe students. We want safe schools. We support everyone’s Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and we will do everything we can to ensure that March For Our Lives can assemble safely.”

Madalena McNeill, the adviser for March for Our Lives SLC, told the Standard-Examiner she learned Wednesday afternoon about the cancellation through the Salt Lake Tribune article. She said the reservation was made by the Town Hall Project and the national March for Our Lives organization.

“Regardless of what happens, we were honored we were chosen as a stop in this tour,” McNeill said. “We understand this event is larger than us. Regardless of what happens, we are going to provide opportunities for people to use their voice.”

She could not confirm if the event would take place in the state anymore. Requests for comment from the Town Hall Project were not immediately returned. 

Contact education reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.