Both sources said the festival owners feared a threat of lawsuits from gun owners if they decided to hold the festival with gun restrictions. There were also concerns that some artists would refuse to perform if weapons were allowed, one of the sources said.
“We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope that we can all enjoy the festival together again soon,” the statement read.
The cancellation is a blow to Atlanta’s tourism trade and the city’s mystique as a music mecca. Other annual music festivals that come to Atlanta every year include the rock-oriented Shaky Knees, which is slated for Central Park in May 2023; hip hop/R&B A music festival in Central Park in October; and the eclectic SweetWater 420 Festival in the spring at Centennial Olympic Park.
Music Midtown, which originally ran from 1994 to 2005 in different locations in Atlanta, returned in 2011 to Piedmont Park, where it has attracted big names over the years such as Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Eminem, Van Halen, Post Malone and Bruno Mars. Around 50,000 people attended last year when Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers and Maroon 5 performed. This year’s now canceled lineup included Jack White, Future and Fall Out Boy.
Peter Conlon, who oversees the festival for Live Nation, declined to comment on the cancellation on Monday.
News of the possibility that Music Midtown could be canceled was first reported by George Chidia freelance journalist from Atlanta on Friday.
Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman said it was “a sad day” for the city after the cancellation was announced.
“Public policy has real impacts and, in this case, economic and social implications on a great tradition,” Shipman said. posted on Twitter.
Georgia law allows firearms in public parks and prevents local governments from enacting local gun laws that are stricter than state ones.
Music Midtown has generally prohibited the bringing of weapons “of any kind” into Piedmont Park. A court decision earlier this year, however, could call into question their ability to legally enforce this rule.
Almost a decade ago, Phillip Evans, a pro-gun activist and blogger, and gun advocacy group GA2A sued the Atlanta Botanical Garden on its gun-free policy, arguing that although the garden is a private entity, it is on public land and should therefore allow guns.
In 2019, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the Botanic Garden had the right to ban guns because it had a long-term lease to use its land; an appeals court upheld that decision earlier this year.
Evans told the AJC on Monday that he has not taken legal action against Music Midtown or threatened legal action, but he has informed organizers, including Live Nation, the company that helps organize the festival, of his concerns. legal. He argued that since the festival only uses the public park for a few days and does not have a long-term lease, it does not have the right to ban guns.
“The law is on our side. And we spent a lot of time making sure it was on our side,” said Jerry Henry of GA2A, the gun rights group that filed the lawsuit that triggered the 2019 ruling. “So if Music Midtown had attempted to prevent licensed gun owners from bringing guns to the festival, it would have been a violation of the law.”
Henry said his band did not celebrate Music Midtown’s decision and said he “hated that it happened”.
“We don’t want anyone to cancel anything. What we want is to defend ourselves and our families,” he said.
With the November election about three months away, Democrats were quick to blame Republicans for a series of pro-gun laws that included a 2022 law to rescind a license requirement to carry concealed weapons.
“Music Midtown’s cancellation is because Republicans control every branch of government in Georgia and use that power to pass regressive and dangerous laws,” said Ruwa Romman, Democratic candidate for a seat in Gwinnett.
– Staff reporter Maya T. Prabhu contributed to this report.