NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville’s convention center, the Music City Center, was just one of many buildings targeted during the destruction and vandalism that occurred during a protest late last month in downtown Nashville.
Recovering from the damage has added to an already challenging year for the convention center.
COVID-19 led to 68 group cancellations for the Music City Center, but about 25 have been rebooked for the fall. All of them want to find new dates and host their events in Nashville, but the city has to be in Phase Four of the city’s reopening plan first.
Vandals defaced two exterior walls of the center, one of which has been covered by a large tarp to hide the offensive graffiti underneath. President and CEO of the Music City Center, Charles Starks, said it will cost the center thousands of dollars to repair.
The amount of damage from the night of May 30 is more than the center has ever dealt with before. Since each surface is different, crews used a three-year supply of graffiti removal cleaner in about three hours and now have to wait for more supplies to continue.
Starks said he was in the building at the time and watched it all unfold
“What it really did is that you looked and saw there was just a handful of individuals that really were here for other reasons and to see the damage they did to a building, I was engaged. Back when we were trying to get this thing approved many, many, 15 years ago, and to see damage, you’re kind of helpless to just stand there and watch that,” explained Starks.
But crews had unexpected help when a group of volunteers showed up the day after the riots to help.
“Folks that just came downtown and started cleaning up and willing to help. That’s the Nashville way, we saw that in the tornadoes, we saw that many other things back with the floods in 2010 and I don’t know if I expect less from Nashvillians because that’s what we’ve seen,” said Starks.
The convention center is staying vigilant and taking extra precautions for any planned protests in the future. Metro police are still looking for the people responsible — call Nashville Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME if you have information.
Multiple peaceful protests have taken place in downtown Nashville since the “I Will Breathe” rally on May 30.
The latest on the protests and riots following the “I Will Breathe” rally in Nashville: