Elvis Presley's Graceland defaced as vandals paint 'F**k Trump', 'Abolish ICE' and 'Defund MPD' grafitti on wall
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: Elvis Presley’s iconic Graceland estate in Memphis, where the legendary singer lived for 20 years before his death in August 1977, has been vandalized, with 'Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Defund the Police’ graffiti.
The stone wall that surrounds the King’s mansion was painted with black and orange lettering, museum workers discovered Tuesday, September 1 morning. Other popular activist phrases such as ‘Abolish ICE’, ‘Defund MPD’, and ‘F**k Trump’ were also painted on the Elvis Presley Boulevard property. Since the property officially became a museum in 1982, thousands of fans of the legend have visited it and left behind innumerable tributes to their idol. Presently, the tributes lay covered with words spray-painted by the vandals.
Presley’s fans were not happy to see the landmark defaced. “We were just driving by this morning and we looked over,” Alice Self told WMC5. “We just couldn’t believe it. We were just stunned by it.”
Bill Stanley, Elvis’ stepbrother, also described how shocked he was to learn that someone would deface the King’s home. “This is totally uncalled for,” said Stanley. “One of the saddest days of my life. I mean, besides the day that Elvis passed away, this right here is right up next to it.”
The graffiti was gone by mid-morning on the same day, thanks to the power washers used by the workers. Meanwhile, Democratic State Rep. Antonio Parkinson spoke out in favor of the graffiti, writing: ''What’s the real issue here? Every visitor that has come to Graceland has written on that wall and there were no complaints. So, really, it’s WHAT was written, not the fact that it was written."
Elvis Presley died at Graceland at 42. The estate attracts around 600,000 visitors annually.
Apart from the Graceland, there were also other iconic landmarks that were targeted by the vandals at the beginning of the week. Vandals also struck the Levitt Shell concert venue in Overton Park, spray-painting a number of demeaning phrases such as ‘F*** TRUMP" and ‘F*** STRICKLAND' - a reference to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland - ‘EAT THE RICH’ and other phrases. Presley's first paid concert was held at the open-air amphitheater on July 30, 1954.
A spokesperson for the Levitt Shell said this is the sixth time this year the property had been vandalized. This was an additional blow to the place which was already struggling from the financial impact of the on-going coronavirus pandemic, battling an $800,000 budget shortfall. The Memphis police said that the cost of repainting the Levitt Shell could be around $150,000, mostly because the venue was of historic importance.
''That’s why this is such a devastating situation seeing it this morning,'' said Natalie Wilson, Levitt Shell executive director. ''It’s getting worse.'' Despite making it clear that she did not support the defacing of the venue, Shell hoped that the space could be helpful for the community to heal. "Defacing our stage is not appropriate; however, we acknowledge their pain and we want to say to our community 'it’s time the conversations are deeper, they’re more productive and that change happens with good communication'," Wilson said.