Updated 5:12 p.m. MST, 7/12/18
Activists from a high school in Parkland, Florida have found a new venue to hold an event this Saturday after their original plans fell through. As part of a March For Our Lives national tour, a town hall discussing school safety will take place at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy.
The location was chosen, in part, because it falls within Mia Love's (R-UT) congressional district. March For Our Lives organizers have targeted Love as a politician who has received thousands in funding from gun rights lobbyists.
The cancellation of the original venue — the Larry H. Miller Megaplex in South Jordan — was due to concerns that pro-gun activits, rallied together to attend the event by the Utah Gun Exchange, would create a contentious atmosphere.
After the venue's cancellation, representatives from the Utah Gun Exchange offered their Sandy headquarters as possible site to host the event. In a statement released today, March For Our Lives organizers addressed why the offer was not accepted:
"We would like to take this opportunity to address the offer of event space by the Utah Gun Exchange. Due to legitimate security concerns, we are making the choice to hold this event in a gun-free space. Utah Gun Exchange, despite their offers to hire more security, has not offered to make their event space gun-free. Regardless, we appreciate the gesture, just as we appreciate all the offers of assistance we have received."
The event is part the larger March For Our Lives movement that resulted from the Parkland school shooting in February that killed 17. Prominent student activists, including Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, are now on a country-wide tour called the Road To Change. They’re advocating for stricter gun regulations and encouraging young people to vote.
The plan for this weekend was to hold a town hall at the Larry H. Miller Megaplex movie theater in South Jordan. But then the Utah Gun Exchange — the group behind the online gun marketplace —announced plans to attend the town hall meeting.
We are heartbroken and blindsided by this turn of events, and even more so by the inappropriate behavior and intimidation tactics by outside groups that led to these circumstances. We sincerely apologize to our supporters and will provide updated information as soon as possible. https://t.co/wCj2LpXRD0
— March For Our Lives SLC (@March4LivesSLC) July 11, 2018
Elizabeth Love is a recent graduate of West High School in Salt Lake and one of the event’s local organizers. She said the venue backed out over concerns that the meeting might become contentious.
The event organizers were told that the theater has to put its moviegoers first and that the venue was "not the right place for it."
Love said she’s disappointed with the decision and the approach taken by the Utah Gun Exchange.
“We are scrambling to find a venue because of the tactics they used," said Love.
Representatives from the Utah Gun Exchange have announced intentions to follow the March For Our Lives activists as they continue to tour the country. The group has made appearances at events in Chicago, New York and Florida.