Aurora shooting: Jordan Ghawi, brother of victim, says boycott of Cinemark is "ridiculous"
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:
In regards to @cinemarkusa and their letter to myself and rest of Aurora families: Yes, their comments were tactless and repulsive.— Jordan Ghawi (@JordanGhawi) January 3, 2013
But that tweet was followed by many others disagreeing with the position of his mother and other victims' families.
However, a boycott of @cinemarkusa is ridiculous. Boycotting the structure of my sister's death allows her killer to "win".— Jordan Ghawi (@JordanGhawi) January 3, 2013
If my sister & the 11 others were killed in a vehicle collison on a Denver highway, would we boycott the DOT or demand it to be demolished?— Jordan Ghawi (@JordanGhawi) January 3, 2013
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:
Regarding the response letter from the families. Why would @cinemarkusa reply to previous correspondence when some of you are suing them?— Jordan Ghawi (@JordanGhawi) January 3, 2013
And he continued urging against a boycott:
Don't boycott the theatre. Go there, remember what happened there, and let it serve as a reminder that "every second of everyday is a gift".— Jordan Ghawi (@JordanGhawi) January 3, 2013
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."
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."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.
- Boulder Cyclist Tom Danielson's Fiery Twitter Defense Against Doping Charge
- Shandrea Bowie Calls Dydrick Martin Her "Baby," Then Allegedly Kills Him
- Photos: Twenty Most Memorable Mug Shots of July 2015