School Shooting Bus Tour-1

Cameron Kasky, center, speaks during a news conference, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Parkland, Florida. A day after graduating from high school, a group of Florida school shooting survivors has announced a multistate bus tour to "get young people educated, registered and motivated to vote."

SALT LAKE CITY — The state chapter of March for Our Lives has secured a venue in Salt Lake City for the town hall with Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors.

This happens a day after Megaplex Theatres canceled the contract it had with the group for a planned Saturday event. 

The town hall will now take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 14, at Mountain America Expo Center, 9575 State St. in Sandy.

Madalena McNeill, the adviser of March for Our Lives SLC, told the Standard-Examiner they are releasing 1,000 priority tickets for the event Saturday. Those who had tickets for the town hall at the movie theatre in South Jordan will automatically have tickets at the new venue.  

“The students are very excited,” McNeill said. “They are very grateful for how everyone came together to support them and it’s going to be a great event.”

Tickets can be obtained online through Eventbrite. Attendees are encouraged to bring identification.

The town hall is part of the “Road to Change” bus tour, a nationwide event launched June 15 in Chicago by the school shooting survivors and March for Our Lives organizers, including Emma González, David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin and Cameron Kasky.

They were expected to join local activists Saturday evening at the Megaplex Theatres in South Jordan.

On Wednesday, Megaplex Theatres canceled the town hall in South Jordan citing security concerns.

“When the 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,” Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of Megaplex Theatres, said in a statement.

According to a report in The Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah Gun Exchange, an online gun marketplace, was encouraging its members to attend the town hall in South Jordan. The Utah Gun Exchange has been following the “Road to Change” tour throughout the country, holding counter-rallies advocating for gun rights.

In March, the Utah Gun Exchange organized a counter-protest to the March for Our Lives event held in Salt Lake City.

The Utah Gun Exchange released a statement Wednesday evening saying it was “concerned to hear that March for Our Lives SLC has had to cancel its event due to the loss of venue” and encouraged the group to hold the town hall at a Utah Gun Exchange facility.

“As it has been claimed that there are threats from ‘outside groups’ of ‘escalation’ — escalation which we do not condone — we are happy to add value to our original offer and pay for additional security to ensure safe and peaceful dialogue at our location,” the statement reads. “We want safe students. We want safe schools. We support everyone’s Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and we will do everything we can to ensure that March For Our Lives can assemble safely.”

According to a press release sent Thursday by March for Our Lives SLC, the group declined the invitation citing security concerns.

“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 statement reads. “Utah Gun Exchange is a business. We are not obligated to mold our movement for gun reform and public safety around the desires of a business whose financial success could be negatively influenced by our legislative goals.”

Contact education reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.

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