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Graceland officials say it has history of ‘inclusion’

Adrian Sainz
Associated Press

Memphis, Tenn. – — Five people have filed a federal civil rights suit against the city of Memphis and Elvis Presley’s Graceland, saying they were discriminated against at a protest by a coalition associated with the Black Lives Matter movement at the annual vigil commemorating the singer’s death.

Graceland owner, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and the city are named in the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court.

Elvis Presley Enterprises issued a statement Thursday that did not directly address the lawsuit, but did say the tourist attraction has a history of being inclusive.

“For 34 years now, Graceland has welcomed over 20 million visitors. They have come to celebrate the life and legacy of Elvis Presley from nearly every country on earth, and they have all been welcomed without incident,” the statement said.

The city declined comment Thursday.

The protest by The Coalition of Concerned Citizens coincided with a candlelight vigil last year at the singer’s home-turned museum, held every year on the Aug. 16 anniversary of his death. Presley fans line up outside the gates of Graceland ahead of the vigil, which starts at night and goes into the early morning hours. Visitors walk past the grave of Presley and his relatives, located on the grounds of the home.

Officers armed with riot gear blocked about 60 protesters from entering the permitted area where Presley’s fans gathered on a public street. Officers allowed people who said they were going to the vigil pass through the phalanx. Most were white.