Almost six months after alleged gunman James Holmes opened fire on a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people, the victims’ families are calling an invitation to the re-opening of that same theater — dubbed a special evening of remembrance” by the Century Aurora 16 theater — a “ridiculously offensive” publicity stunt. Nine of the families have issued a letter expressing their pain over the invitation, as well as asking others to join them in a boycott.
Theater chain Cinemark is currently facing multiple lawsuits from the victims’ families, notes the Denver Post. It issued the invitation over the Christmas holiday via the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, adding that counselors will be available at the theater the night of the event. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper are to attend the Jan. 17 community event as well.
“The process of grieving and healing is long, painful and difficult,” Hogan said via e-mail. “As we take steps to heal and move forward as a community, I expect people will experience a range of emotions. That is why it is important for the victims and their families to have a choice whether or not they want to attend the reopening.”
But that’s not going over so well with the victims’ families, as many of them signed a letter to Cinemark expressing their disapproval of the event.
The letter reads in part (via AFP):
“During the holiday we didn’t think anyone or anything could make our grief worse. But you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the re-opening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred. Thanks for making what is a very difficult holiday season that much more difficult. Timing is everything and yours is awful.
“This disgusting offer that you’d ‘like to invite you and a guest to a special evening of remembrance on Thursday, January 17 at 5 PM’ followed by the showing of a movie and then telling us to be sure ‘to reserve our tickets’ is wholly offensive to the memory of our loved ones.
“Our family members will never be on this earth with us again and a movie ticket and some token words from people who didn’t care enough to reach out to us, nor respond when we reached out to them to talk, is appalling.
“We, the families, recognize your thinly veiled publicity ploy for what it is: a great opportunity for you to distance yourselves and divert public scrutiny from your culpability in this massacre.
“After reading our response to your ridiculously offensive invitation, you now know why we will not be attending your re-opening celebration and will be using every social media tool at our disposal to ask the other victims to ask their friends and family to honor us by boycotting the killing field of our children.”
To put it more succinctly, as the mother of a 24-year-old who was killed that night said: “None of us received a letter of condolence or any other communication from Cinemark, but now they want us to step foot in that theater. It’s like people going back to a slaughterhouse, as far as I am concerned.”
There were also 58 people wounded during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20. Families of the victims ahve filed lawsuits against the theater, blaming it for lax security that allowed Holmes to allegedly commit the shootings.