Five people have filed a discrimination lawsuit against officials of Elvis Presley's Graceland museum claiming they were denied access to a public vigil due to their race.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed on Wednesday (18Jan17) against Elvis Presley Enterprises, the owners of the late singer's home-turned-museum, and the city of Memphis, Tennessee, where the museum is situated.
They claim they took part in a Black Lives Matter protest, organised by the The Coalition of Concerned Citizens, near to Elvis’ Graceland address on 16 August (16), the date of the late singer’s death which is marked by an annual vigil.
According to the lawsuit, Memphis police officers armed with riot gear allowed mostly white people into the designated vigil area and denied several people entry because of their race.
"The decision as to which citizens were allowed to attend the public vigil and which citizens were denied access to the public vigil, was based on the race of the citizens," the lawsuit reads, according to the Associated Press.
The claimants are requesting a jury trial and unspecified damages.
Elvis Presley Enterprises issued a statement on Thursday (19Jan17) and insisted the attraction was inclusive without specifically referencing the legal action.
"For 34 years now, Graceland has welcomed over 20 million visitors," reads the statement. "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... Graceland is proud of its world-wide reputation for inclusion and hospitality as it welcomes the next 20 million visitors."
Memphis Chief Legal Officer Bruce MCMullen also added city officials are "extremely confident that our officers did not engage in any discriminatory behaviour."