Atlanta festival cancellation sparks new war over guns

ATLANTA (AP) — Tens of thousands of Music Midtown Festival attendees will descend on Atlanta’s sprawling Piedmont Park next month to cheer on hip-hop star Future and beloved rock band My Chemical Romance take to the stage. I don’t plan on watching

In fact, some believe Atlanta, the center of America’s hip-hop music scene, will lose even more public music festivals and performances. An alcohol-fueled crowd.

The prospect has ignited a new battle over gun rights in Georgia, disrupted the gubernatorial race, overshadowed Atlanta’s proud music scene and heightened tensions between the city and the state.

Live Nation declined to disclose why it recently canceled September’s Music Midtown, a long-running event for pop music lovers.

But the news outlet, citing unnamed sources, said last week’s announcement stemmed from a 2019 Georgia Supreme Court decision that placed limits on private companies’ ability to ban guns on public property. The ruling stems from a 2014 state law that expanded where guns are allowed.

Democrats, led by Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, jumped on the news, citing the cancellation as an example of the kind of economic impact the state would experience from Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s “extreme gun agenda.” Kemp was a key proponent of the gun control laws cited in the press coverage of Music Midtown, which were enacted under Kemp’s Republican predecessor. New state law this year This eliminates the need for a license and background check to carry a handgun in public.

Ann Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editorial He warned that gun control would threaten Atlanta’s status as the “cultural capital of the South.” Atlanta City Council Chairman Doug Shipman lamented the loss of his Midtown Music Festival this year.

“All of this is culminating in a moment when music festivals, people gatherings and many economic activities need to get out of COVID,” he told the Associated Press.

In addition to its direct impact, the fight will also cut the rift between Georgia’s deeply democratic capital and the Republican-controlled state legislature, which has recently expanded gun rights and restricted access to abortion and voting. Also added State leaders Butt heads with Atlanta-based giants Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola The company called the voting change “unacceptable.”

Live Nation did not respond to emails regarding Music Midtown’s cancellation. The festival’s website cites “situations beyond our control,” but no one at the company has publicly denounced state gun laws.

Gun rights activist Philip Evans, who previously filed a lawsuit over the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s gun ban policy, said he warned Music Midtown organizers that their gun ban policy was against state law. Evans’ lawsuit prompted a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling that said private companies doing certain types of leases on public land cannot ban guns.

Live Nation planned to host the festival at Piedmont Park, public land where the festival has been held every year since 2011, with the 2020 coronavirus-related exception. illegal.

“When it comes to Music Midtown, it’s virtually too easy to not ban guns there,” said John Monroe, an attorney who represented gun rights groups in the state Supreme Court case.

Canceling the event due to gun control reasons makes sense from Live Nation’s perspective, said Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University.

a Shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas in 2017 It claims more than 50 lives have been lost and cost the venue’s owner, MGM Resorts International, and its insurers $800 million in legal costs. With no restrictions on guns, Lytton said, Live Nation was considering potentially “astronomical” liability at Music Midtown.

The cancellation has hit Georgia’s economy and local businesses.

Abrams said in a statement that Kemp “is more focused on protecting dangerous people who carry guns in public than protecting jobs and keeping businesses in Georgia.” , her campaign released a cancellation-focused attack ad this week. Democrats from other states also participated.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak tweeted: @MusicMidtown, please earn his Silver status!” Roy Cooper, Gov. of North Carolina, also invited Music Midtown to his state.

Kemp accused Abrams and other Democrats of “imposing” critical narratives about the firearms situation in Georgia to distract from inflation and blame it on party policy.

Georgia also recently came under fire from Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom over a state law banning most abortions if fetal heart activity is present. The law came into force last month.

Newsom last week placed an ad in the entertainment magazine Variety, urging studios to stop making movies in states including Georgia. .

Mr. Kemp told reporters last week that he wasn’t worried about attempts by Democratic governors to pull businesses out of Georgia, including California.

“Would you check gas prices in those states these days?” Kemp said, citing Georgia’s strong industrial development, tourism and movie figures.

Gun rights advocates have identified at least one music venue in Atlanta that they claim may have violated the 2014 Gun Control Act. Chastain Park features an amphitheater surrounded by wealthy residential neighborhoods and prohibits the use of “weapons” in its shows.

But activists say they have no intention of shutting down the event and are just protecting themselves.

“If you’re going to a public place, you want to be able to carry a gun,” said Jerry Henry, executive director of Georgia’s Second Amendment.


Associated Press writers Jeff Amy and Bill Burrow contributed to this report.