There will be a ‘high visibility’ of police presence in US cinemas in time for the opening weekend of Joker next week, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has confirmed.
Police also warned cinema-goers to remain vigilant when going to see the highly anticipated film, which will be released more than seven years after the Aurora theatre mass shooting which saw the gunman dress up as the comic book villain and murder 12 people, injuring 70 more.
The announcement comes after families of the victims of the senseless 2012 mass shooting wrote letters to Warner Bros. expressing concern about the film’s content.
As reported by The Los Angeles Times, the announcement also comes after the FBI and the US Army issued internal warnings about possible threats related to the movie. These messages were later shared publicly and subsequently shared online, causing panic.
The memo in question came from the US Army Criminal Investigation Command field office, and began circulating on social media earlier this week. It warned of a ‘credible potential mass shooting’ at an unknown movie theatre during the release of the film.
The chief of public affairs with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command in Quantico, Chris Grey, confirmed the memo was sent on Monday (September 23) after they obtained information from the Joint Crime Information Center in the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Grey said they did so ‘out of an abundance of caution’ to help keep their soldiers and their families safe. He added that they were not currently aware of any information indicating a ‘specific, credible threat to a particular location or venue’.
The Army reportedly first became aware of a potential threat after receiving a bulletin from the FBI, information which was separate from what the Texas Department of Public Safety provided, according to Gizmodo.
The LAPD did not confirm whether the announcement comes at the directive of higher law enforcement, although the decision certainly appears to be influenced by the FBI’s suggestion.
The FBI said in a statement:
While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is in touch with our law enforcement and private sector partners about the online posts.
As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
It’s already been confirmed that Joker will not be playing in the same Aurora, Colorado theatre the 2012 shooting took place at, Dailymail.com reports, with the families of the 12 victims sending letters to Warner Bros. to express their concern.
The letters referenced the violence in the movie, while requesting that the studio help fund gun violence intervention programmes, lobby for gun reform, and end contributions to political candidates who accept contributions from the National Rifle Association.
When we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called ‘Joker’ that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause. We want to be clear that we support your right to free speech and free expression.
But as anyone who has ever seen a comic book can tell you: with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why we’re calling on you to use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns.
The LAPD, who said in a statement they were ‘aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of Joker,’ said there were ‘no credible threats’ in the Los Angeles area, but would ‘maintain high visibility’ around cinemas when the film is released.
The police department, despite encouraging cinema-goers to remain vigilant, is not instructing anyone to avoid screenings of the movie.
Joker will be released in cinemas on October 4.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).