'Disgusting': Families of massacre victims boycott Colorado theater reopening event
Jonathan Castner / AFP - Getty Images file
The scene in front of the Aurora, Colo., theater on July 20 where a gunman opened fire during the opening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."
In addition, victims and their families were told special arrangements could be made for them to visit before the reopening, on Jan. 15 and 16.
According to the Denver Post, an email invitation was also sent through the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance. It said that counselors would be available at the event.
In response, a group of families fired back a letter of their own, blasting the invitation(below) and saying they would urge a boycott of the event on social media.
“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.”
The letter says Cinemark had not reached out to families before the invitation.
"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," Sandy Phillips, mother of Jessica Ghawi, told The Denver Post. Ghawi was one of the people fatally shot during the sold-out midnight showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20.
“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,” the letter states.
Court date set for Colorado theater shooting suspect's biggest hearing yet
A survey conducted this summer by the city of Aurora found the majority of residents in favor of having the theater reopened, the Post reported. It was remade into an XD theater with wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor screen.
Several victims’ families have sued Cinemark USA, alleging impr
oper security at the theater on the night of the massacre.
A spokeswoman for Cinemark told NBC News the theater would have no immediate comment on the boycott.
James Holmes, a 25-year-old former neuroscience graduate student, is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the shootings. On Wednesday prosecutors said they would make public evidence in the case for the first time in a hearing next week.
At previous hearings, a defense lawyer has said Holmes suffered from an unspecified mental illness.
Families of Victims Massacred at Aurora Cinemark Theater Reject Cinemark USA’s Offer
The family members of loved ones murdered sent this letter to Cinemark USA:
To the Management of Cinemark USA, Inc.:
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.
You (Cinemark) has shown, and continues to show, ZERO compassion to the families of the victims whose loved ones were killed in their theater. You, Cinemark, have never once reached out to the families to offer condolences.
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.
You (Cinemark) refused our repeated invitations to speak parent to parent with no lawyers involved. Instead, we get invited to attend a “special evening of remembrance” at the very theater where our loved ones lay dead on the floor for over 15 hours. We would give anything to wipe the carnage of that night out of our minds’ eye. Thank you for reminding us how your quest for profits has blinded your leadership and made you so callous as to be oblivious to our mental anguish.
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.
The Families of the Aurora Cinemark Theatre Massacre
Thomas Teves (father of Alex Teves)
Caren Teves (mother of Alex Teves)
Sandy Phillips (mother of Jessica Ghawi)
Lonnie Phillips (stepfather of Jessica Ghawi)
Jerri Jackson (mother of Matt McQuinn)
Greg Medek (father of Micayla Medek)
Rena Medek (mother of Micayla Medek)
Anita Busch (cousin of Greg and Micayla Medek)
Robert Wingo, (father of Rebecca Ann Wingo’s two children)
Scott Larimer (father of John Larimer)
Kathleen Larimer (mother of John Larimer)
Jessica Watts (cousin of Jonathan Blunk)
Robert Sullivan (grandfather of Veronica Moser-Sullivan)
Sue Sullivan (grandmother of Veronica Moser-Sullivan)
Cassandra Sullivan (widow of Alex Sullivan)