Los Angeles

Gardner Elementary Mulls Over Removing Michael Jackson's Name From Auditorium

Gardner Street Elementary School is undergoing soul searching this week, weighing whether to break a symbolic link with pop star Michael Jackson, whose name is on the auditorium of the Hollywood campus.

A man told the Los Angeles Times he was conflicted.

"I've tried to digest this," said the man, whose daughter is a fifth-grader at the school. "I've grappled with it and I haven't come to any Decision."

"The documentary was a dark thing," he said. "And I believe the two men. But his music still lives. My gosh, people love his music. It's a huge joy for them."

The documentary to which he referred is "Leaving Neverland," which aired on HBO in March and portrays Jackson through the eyes of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who allege that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children.

Jackson was never charged with molesting either.

The broadcast was deeply unsettling for parents and staff at Gardner, who are voting this week on whether to banish Jackson’s name, according to The Times.

The documentary should not convict Jackson in the eyes of the Gardner community, said Howard Weitzman, who represents Jackson's estate, which has sued HBO.

"It would be a terrible shame to remove Michael's name from the auditorium based on an intentionally one-sided film," Weitzman said. "There is no fair consideration when you only hear from one side. Michael Jackson is not guilty and he, like all citizens, is entitled to the presumption of Innocence."

Jackson long has been a small but significant piece of the school's history, starting as an 11-year-old, when he attended the school for several months.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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