The two sources said that festival owners are concerned about the threat of lawsuits from gun owners if they decide to hold the festival with restrictions on firearms. One source said there were also concerns that some artists would refuse to perform if weapons were allowed.
“We were looking forward to the September reunion and hope we can all enjoy the festival together again soon,” the statement said.
The cancellation is a major blow to Atlanta’s tourism trade town and the city’s conundrum as a musical mecca. Other annual music festivals that come to Atlanta each year include the rock-oriented Shaky Knees, set in Central Park in May 2023; Hip Hop/R&B One MusicFest in Central Park in October; and the eclectic SweetWater 420 Spring Festival at Centennial Olympic Park.
Music Midtown, which originally operated from 1994 to 2005 in various locations around Atlanta, returned in 2011 in Piedmont Park, attracting big names over the years such as Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Eminem, Van Halen, Post Malone and Bruno March. About 50,000 people attended last year, when Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, and Maroon 5 sang. This year’s now-defining lineup included Jack White, Future and Fall Out Boy.
Peter Conlon, who oversees the Live Nation festival, declined to comment on Monday’s cancellation.
George Chedi, a freelance journalist in Atlanta, reported news of the possibility of Music Midtown being cancelled, on Friday.
Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman said it was a “sad day” for the city after the cancellation was announced.
“Public policy has real and in this case economic and social implications for a great tradition,” Shipman Posted on Twitter.
Georgia law allows guns to be in parks, and prevents local governments from passing local gun laws that are stricter than state laws.
Midtown Music has usually prohibited guns “of any kind” from being brought into Piedmont Park. However, a court ruling earlier this year may call into question their ability to legally enforce this rule.
Nearly a decade ago, Phillip Evans, a pro-gun activist and blogger, and gun advocate group GA2A, sued the Atlanta Botanical Garden over a no-gun policy, arguing that while the park is a private entity, it is on land General and therefore must allow firearms.
In 2019, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the botanical garden has the right to ban weapons because it has a long-term lease to use its land; The Court of Appeal confirmed this ruling earlier this year.
Evans told the American Jewish Committee on Monday that he had not taken any legal action against Music Midtown or threatened a lawsuit, but made organizers including Live Nation, the company that helps organize the festival, aware of his legal concerns. He said that since the festival only uses the public park for a few days and does not have a long-term lease, it has no right to ban weapons.
“The law is on our side. We spent a lot of time making sure it was on our side,” said Jerry Henry of GA2A, the gun rights group that brought the lawsuit that led to the 2019 ruling. Those who are authorized to bring guns to the festival, it would be a violation of the law.”
Henry said his group does not celebrate the Midtown Music Decision and said he “hated seeing that happen”.
“We don’t want anyone to cancel anything. What we want is to stand up for ourselves and our families.
With the November elections looming nearly three months away, Democrats were quick to blame Republicans for a raft of pro-gun legislation that included a 2022 law to roll back the licensing requirement to carry concealed weapons.
“Midtown Music abolished because Republicans control every branch of government in Georgia and use that power to pass regressive and dangerous laws,” said Roa Roman, a Democratic candidate for a seat in the Gwinnett House of Representatives.
– Staff correspondent Maya T. contributed to this report. Prabhu.