Graffiti promoting the band Gorillaz spray-painted on the concrete walkways inside Philadelphia's Vietnam Veterans Memorial park has sparked a furor and a hunt for two suspects.
"This is just egregious," an infuriated Terry Williamson, president of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, said Tuesday. "It’s just hard to realize nobody would realize this is just sacred ground."
"After all these years and the sweat to build the memorial and to refurbish it and to try to recognize the sacrifice of veterans in the Vietnam War, then we get crap like this," he said.
"We consider the whole area to be sacrosanct," Williamson added. "It just galls me that someone would choose this location to advertise a band."
He said he heard that the name of the band and it latest album were spray painted in nine places on the walkways in the memorial park, at Front and Spruce Streets. "They didn’t deface the wall of names."
Williamson is calling for a boycott of the band, which is scheduled to play Philadelphia's Festival Pier on July 13. He wrote a blog Tuesday entitled: "Boycott Band Associated with Vandalism at Memorial."
The post says: "The individuals responsible were captured in the act by the Memorial's surveillance cameras which shows a man and woman placing stencils and spraying paint on the walkways to advertise the band [Gorillaz]" and its latest album, Humanz, which was recently released.
The veterans memorial fund posted a video of the vandals on its Facebook page on Saturday, and Philadelphia police released the video Tuesday, asking for the public's help in identifying the couple.
The video shows a man and woman walking into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial park on April 23. The man is then seen spray painting something on the concrete walkways in the park.
The man is white and about 25 to 30 years old. He was wearing a black hat, black shirt, and blue jeans.
The woman is white, also about 25 to 30 years old. She has blonde hair and was wearing a gray shirt and black pants.
Started in 1998 in Essex, England, Gorillaz broke into the mainstream with 2001’s “Clint Eastwood,” a trip-hop-tinged track that peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. Humanz, released April 28, is the band’s fifth studio album, and serves as a follow-up to 2010’s The Fall.
Guerrilla advertising for the band has been spotted around Philadelphia recently, with one local Reddit user complaining that he had to power-wash a Humanz advertisement off his property.
Advertisements have also been spotted in Dallas, Texas, where a local bar and record store found spray-painted ads on their buildings last month, according to the Dallas Observer.
A representative for the band declined to comment on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial vandalism when reached by phone Tuesday.
Thomas Conway, Philadelphia's deputy managing director who oversees the Community Life Improvement Program, an anti-blight program, said CLIP workers removed the spray-painted Gorillaz graffiti in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial park on Saturday, a day after being notified of it by City Councilman Mark Squilla.
Squilla, in an emailed statement, said Tuesday: “It was disrespectful to deface the property surrounding our Memorials. As soon as I was made aware of the graffiti, I contacted CLIP to request immediate removal. I also alerted authorities to review surveillance footage of perpetrators. Hopefully, they will be caught and realize the inappropriate nature of their actions.”
The name of the band and its latest album have also been spray-painted on the Market Street Bridge, which carries Market Street over Interstate 95 toward Penn's Landing. Conway said he will have CLIP workers look into that.
Anyone with information about the couple is asked to call the Philadelphia police tip line at 215-686-TIPS (8477) or Detective Anderson at the Central Detective Division at 215-686-3047. Tips, which can be anonymous, can also be submitted online.