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Juneteenth film festival put on hold after AG's office sends warning to theater owner

Mr. Music
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Movie theater company Emagine Entertainment has backed off its plan to reopen a suburban Detroit movie theater on Friday after company chairman Paul Glantz received a letter Thursday from the office of Attorney General Dana Nessel that said to open would be against the law.

Earlier this week, Emagine Entertainment announced that it would host a week-long Juneteenth film festival starting Friday at its Royal Oak theater and donate the net ticket proceeds to the United Negro College Fund. 

The plan was launched despite Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive order requiring indoor movie theaters to remain closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Glantz said in a Thursday press release that he decided to indefinitely postpone the event to avoid criminal prosecution. 

The letter from the attorney general's office warned that opening the theater would violate Whitmer's order, and willful violation of the order would be a misdemeanor. 

"In the interest of public health, you are urged to immediately cancel plans to open your theaters until it is lawful to do so," said the letter. "The Attorney General will criminally prosecute violations if local authorities do not."

In the press release, Glantz said the theater had put in place protocols to protect public health, and he called the order "arbitrary and capricious." Calling its enforcement unconstitutional and an abuse of power, Glantz said, "We will be seeking legal redress to prevent it from occurring in the future."

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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