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Aurora shooting: Jordan Ghawi, brother of victim, says boycott of Cinemark is "ridiculous"

Jordan Ghawi
Jordan Ghawi

Yesterday, families of those who died in the Aurora theater shooting blasted Cinemark, owner of the site of the tragedy, for insensitively inviting them to an event timed with the theater's reopening. The mother and stepfather of victim Jessica Ghawi joined others in signing a letter to the theater, expressing their outrage and calling for a boycott. But Jordan Ghawi, Jessica's brother, did not. And today he explained why he disagrees with those criticizing Cinemark.

As we reported yesterday, Cinemark, which owns the Century 16 theater in Aurora where twelve were killed and dozens more injured in a mass shooting on July 20, sent a note to victims' families two days after Christmas, saying they could reserve tickets to a "remembrance ceremony" tied to the theater's reopening.

The note was sent via the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, a group that has been criticized by families for a lack of transparency in its process of disbursing donations.

In a very strongly worded response, fifteen family members of victims said it was a "ridiculously offensive invitation" and that they would be doing everything possible to encourage people to boycott the "killing field."

Jordan Ghawi, who was active on social media in the aftermath of the shooting, took to Twitter today to offer his take on Cinemark, first saying that he, too, did not appreciate the letter:

But that tweet was followed by many others disagreeing with the position of his mother and other victims' families.

And referencing concerns in the families' letter that Cinemark -- which is facing lawsuits from some injured victims -- had been unresponsive to families in the past:

And he continued urging against a boycott:

Continue for more of Jordan Ghawi's comments and response from Jessica's mother and stepfather.

Jordan Ghawi added in follow-up tweets: "Most importantly, do not let emotion transcend reason," and, "The worst thing about this is that [Cinemark] could possibly donate opening weekend sales in Aurora to mental health centers if they...weren't being sued by some family members and victims."

Jessica Ghawi
Jessica Ghawi

Reached by e-mail, he said he would not be commenting further.

We did reach his stepfather, Lonnie Phillips, who said that he and his wife Sandy Phillips, Jessica's mother, do not agree with Ghawi's comments.

"Jordan's thinking and my thinking are not on the same lines," he says, pointing out that his wife Sandy expressed her frustration in a tweet back to him:

"The letter [that families sent] was about their insensitivity and their unwillingness to speak with us in the beginning," he says, adding that they had questions and concerns about the plans for the theater in the future. "They would not return calls. Now, when it's time to reopen the theater, they need publicity. They want victims' parents to help with reopening.... I'm very angry.... That was very insensitive and uncalled for."

Phillips adds that he doesn't agree with Ghawi's comparison of the shootings to a traffic accident. "It's illogical," he says. "If you're gonna use an analogy, use one that's gonna make sense."

The whole point of the letter, Phillips says, was to express outrage about how hurtful Cinemark's actions were.

"At a time when we were most vulnerable, in the deepest pain at Christmas, during the holidays, this was in bad, bad taste," he says. "I don't care what anyone says. That was insensitive."

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes: Post-its in courthouse bathroom promote film that says he was set up"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


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