The organisers of one of Atlanta, Georgia’s major festivals, Music Midtown, announced yesterday that the two-day event in August has been cancelled. Despite the official announcement claiming “circumstances beyond our control”, some local media outlets have reported that the reason for cancellation might actually have to do with the state’s gun laws.
In a statement posted on their website and social media, the organisers said: “Hey Midtown fans – due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year. We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon.”
As reported in NPR, Timothy Lytton, a professor of law at Georgia State University, said that this scenario is the product of a complex grey area in Georgia’s gun laws. He explained that if a gun owner wants to bring a weapon to a public venue or park, then state law protects their right to do so. He also expressed that private properties, such as a business or universities, are only allowed under some circumstances to stop a person from bringing in a firearm.
“And now we have an unclear case: What happens if you have a privately organised concert but in a very public venue like a city park? Is that a private event? Or is that a public venue? And the answer to that is somewhat unclear,” Lytton told the publication.
Music Midtown is usually held at the public Piedmont Park, not far from Atlanta’s downtown. The headliners this year included My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Future, and Jack White.
It has also been reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that sources in the know about Music Midtown’s decision claimed that they cancelled the event because of a recent ruling that would limit the organiser’s power to ban guns during the festival, meaning they’d be at risk of a lawsuit or other litigation from someone wanting to challenge the policy.
The organisers of the festival are yet to further explain their reasoning for cancellation.