Canceled Midtown Music Festival in Atlanta puts lax gun laws under the microscope

Canceled Midtown Music Festival in Atlanta puts lax gun laws under the microscope


With gun control legislation stalled at the federal level, developments in the music festival circuit have confirmed the impact of state laws: The downtown Atlanta Music Festival, originally scheduled for next month, was canceled due to a Georgia court ruling that prevented the organizers from banning. Guns on the festival grounds.

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will not take place this year,” the festival announced in a statement on its website and social media accounts. “We were looking forward to the September reunion and hope we can all enjoy the festival together again soon.” “

Music Midtown, founded in 1994 and most recently set up last September, was scheduled to take place this year from September 17-18 with Fall Out Boy, Future, Jack White, and My Chemical Romance. Festivals have been held for the past decade in Piedmont Park, on nearly 200 acres partially managed by the city.

According to Billboard and Rolling Stone, both of which cited industry sources, legal liability arising from Georgia’s extended pro-gun laws is responsible for the cancellation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cited officials who also attributed the decision to “ongoing legal repercussions.” In 2014, Governor Nathan Dell (right) signed a sweeping package of bills that expanded where people could carry concealed firearms to include spaces such as bars, parks, parts of airports and some churches. The Safe Pregnancy Protection Act, also referred to as the “Guns Everywhere” bill, gave the state more power to preempt local restrictions on guns.

That same year, pro-gun activist Philip Evans sued the Atlanta Botanical Gardens after he was escorted out of the building for possession of a gun. The Georgia Supreme Court heard the case in 2019 and ruled that companies with long-term leases can ban firearms on public lands; A subsequent appeals court ruling issued this year reinforced that short-term events do not have much power to restrict weapons.

While the Music Midtown party took place last year, gun rights advocates challenged the gun ban this time around. Evans argued in May that his legal loss against the park, which holds a 50-year lease from the city, has paved a clearer path to victory against short-term public land occupants like Festival. He told the Journal Constitution on Monday that he had alerted regulators to his “legal concerns.”

Neither Music Midtown nor its owner, promoter Live Nation, responded to a request from The Washington Post for additional comment on the decision to cancel the festival. Accessed Monday, a member of Atlanta Mayor’s communications team Andre Dickens wrote in an email, “We’ll look into this.”

Michael Julian Bond, a city councilor, told The Post on Tuesday that although Live Nation had not confirmed to him the reason for the cancellation, he could see why organizers were reluctant to hold the event without gun restrictions: The law at Piedmont Park said ” Exposed on every side, practically.”

Bond compared the openness of Piedmont Park to Live Nation’s Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas where a gunman opened fire in 2017 and killed dozens of people. He said the proliferation of weapons, eased by state restrictions on them, comes with economic and social costs.

“As a society, we trade one set of rights for another,” he continued. “You can carry any kind of crazy weapon you want, but you can’t safely assemble it.”

With Gun Ownership on the Rise, Georgia Looks to Relax Restrictions: It’s ‘The Wild Wild West’

Festival safety measures have come under intense scrutiny since crowds at rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival on November 10 killed concertgoers and injured hundreds; A Post investigation found that most of the victims at the Houston event were in a tightly packed area. Morgan Millardo, managing director of the Berklee Institute of Folk Music, said she has seen an increase in safety measures in place throughout the festival this summer. Some performers and their crew members direct what they should do in the event of an emergency, such as if they discover an accident unfolding from the stage.

Festival security tends to be “beautiful black and white,” according to Milardo. Include specific security measures in the jockey – or a set of contractual requirements for an artist to perform at a venue, she said, which local journalist George Chedi until Friday As a possible reason for the looming cancellation of Music Midtown – it is standard practice. What has changed here are the laws surrounding the place.

“It’s an open conversation in the music industry right now: How do we keep everyone safe?” Milardo said. “These things happen unfortunately, and this is something we have to keep in mind. The promoters are doing their best to keep their events safe, and the artists are doing their best…it goes a long way.”

The cancellation of Music Midtown wasn’t the first time figures in the entertainment industry drew attention to Georgia’s controversial laws. In 2019, after Governor Brian Kemp (right) signed the “Heartbeat Bill” that effectively bans most abortions, Hollywood filmmakers announced their intention to boycott Georgia. The studios did not follow through on the threats, likely due to the generous state tax credit. Most studios remained quiet again last year after Kemp signed the voting restrictions into law, which, as CNBC noted at the time, drew criticism from big companies like Coca-Cola and Delta. As the backlash continued, Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest.

Stacy Abrams, the Democratic candidate against Kemp for the Georgia governor’s seat, Tweet a lengthy statement On Monday evening, he condemned the “dangerous and extremist agenda of weapons.” The statement said the canceled festival is “proof that its reckless policies are also endangering Georgia’s economy,” noting later that the incident “will cost Georgia’s economy a proven $50 million.” Phoebe Bridgers, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who was due to perform at Music Midtown, retweeted Abrams’ post.

Kemp’s office did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

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