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No one is happy about it.
Life in West Warwick, Rhode Island, hasn’t been the same since a fire at the Station nightclub took the lives of 100 people during a Great White concert in 2003. Since the tragedy, the remains of the venue have been a place for friends and families to gather, remember their lost loved ones, and heal–so it’s safe to say relatives of the victims are not too pleased that the site recently became a Pokéstop on Pokémon Go.
The Associated Press reports that family members and survivors of the fire are requesting the removal of the stop from the app.
“You’re kidding me,” Chris Fontaine—whose 22-year-old son, Mark was killed in the accident—told the AP. “It’s not a gaming kind of place.”
Many have pointed out that the stop is discourteous.
“That is just so disrespectful,” survivor Victoria Potvin Eagan said. “Graveyards and memorial sites especially are meant to honor and respect a certain person or event, not to make light of it.”
According to the AP, Niantic, the creator of the app, has not yet commented about the controversy.
Illegal use of pyrotechnics during hard rock band Great White’s set inside the Station is what started the fire that killed 100 people and injured 200 0ther attendees. It’s the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.
The venue is now owned by the Station Fire Memorial Foundation, an organization that has been raising funds to turn the desolate site into a memorial. The memorial is slated to open in October.
The Station is not the first controversial Pokéstop in the game to cause an uproar. Recently, Niantic had to remove stops including the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, a toddler’s memorial in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and the Atomic bomb memorial in Hiroshima, Japan.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.