‘March For Our Lives’ Venue Backs Out Of Event; Gun Rights Advocates Offer Alternative Location
SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – As the March for Our Lives “Road to Change” tour approaches its July 14 date in Salt Lake City, the event is looking for a new venue.
Survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. were scheduled to participate in a town hall at the Megaplex Theatre in South Jordan. Wednesday, though, a Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment spokesperson said the theater would cancel the event.
“We support important and respectful dialogue on any issue that impacts our community. When this 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,” the statement read. “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. We are refunding all deposits and will assist in helping the organizer find an appropriate location for this event.”
“We were just as shocked as everybody else,” said Saida Dahir.
Dahir is a high school student who joined the Salt Lake City chapter of March for Our Lives and helped organize a rally at the Utah State Capitol in March. She was thrilled to hear the survivors speak on Saturday.
“We really aspire to be these people. They’re our role models, so I cannot wait to have dialogue with these people and move forward,” she said.
Now, as the organization is looking for a new venue days away from the event, an offer has come in from a surprising place – Utah Gun Exchange.
“We’re hoping for an open, honest, genuine dialogue. We want to work with these people to come together in areas that we agree,” said Sam Robinson, co-owner of Utah Gun Exchange. “We don’t need to focus on the areas where we don’t. We can focus on the areas where we do agree to see what we can accomplish together,”
The Sandy-based online gun exchange has launched their own tour across the country promoting Second Amendment rights. Some stops on their tour have coincided with stops on the March for Our Lives tour. Members of the Utah Gun Exchange group have visited March for Our Lives events in their promotional vehicle, resembling an armored truck with a replica gun on top. Some have called the group insensitive.
“Our goal is not to offend. Our goal is not to disrespect. We are respectful and we are genuine about wanting to work with those that might not see the same way to get to the same objective,” Robinson said.
Robinson said his company’s warehouse in Sandy has plenty of room the host the event.
“We were sad that there was a cancellation. We’re sad that there’s misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or misrepresentation going on, because our goal is a peaceful one,” he said. “We are willing to hire an independent safety firm to come and provide additional safety, all the safety that is needed to ensure that everyone can come and utilize their First Amendment rights.”
Organizers have not said whether or not they would take the company up on their offer. Wednesday evening, a March for Our Lives photographer posted a picture of members of both groups sitting at a table. In the caption, she said “there was understanding and learning happening on both sides.”