GARY – A local mystery has been solved and it was a real thriller.
Five years ago, the Michael Jackson memorial that was carved in stone after his brutal death in 2009 mysteriously disappeared from its long-standing pedestal in the front yard of Jackson’s childhood home in Gary.
The massive 5,000 pound granite monument with images and song lyrics of the King of Pop has for years welcomed visitors to the house at 2300 Jackson Street where the famous Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Jackson 5 were students.
Then in 2017, he disappeared without a trace.
It turns out that the disappearance may not have been the work of a good criminal. The huge memorial didn’t go very far.
Documentary filmmaker Gary Paul King, whose Steel City Storm videos have more than 1.7 million views and around 8,000 subscribers on YouTube, discovered the monument while filming a home video.
It was hidden under a tarp and bricks in the backyard of the house next door, which was originally supposed to be a Michael Jackson museum that has yet to open.
“When it happened, people were really upset,” King said. “People come from all over the world to see this house and the monument is one of them. People were outraged. I don’t know why they took it down when it was given to the city. People should be able to see it . “
Gary police told The Times in 2018 that the monument was taken down when Janet and Randy Jackson visited their family home in Gary in October 2017. Lt. Thomas Pawlak said the department contacted the family and found he had been dismantled to do a video shoot and would be put back in place after some landscaping.
“It is my understanding that the memorial is privately owned, just like 2300 Jackson St.,” City of Gary spokesman Michael Gonzales said. “If it’s there and under a tarp, I don’t know any details.”
King said the monument appears to have been left behind the house next door for years, given the condition of the tarp draped over it and the pads it rests on.
“He’s just sitting under a tarp on skates in the house next door,” he said. “I was walking around the house looking and it was there. It’s a shame he was just sitting there.”
The iconic statue was unveiled in June 2010. On the front, the black granite monument reads “King of Pop Michael J. Jackson from August 29, 1958 to June 25, 2009. Hometown of Michael Jackson – Gary, Ind. Cannot never say goodbye.” It features an image of Jackson walking on the moon against a moon backdrop.
The statue was originally located at the U.S. Steel Yard in downtown Gary, where it was displayed for his memorial service in July after his death.
It has stood outside his childhood home since Katherine Jackson, other family members and then-Mayor Rudy Clay unveiled the ‘beautiful work of art’ in front of hundreds of cheering fans who swooned down. sang “We are the World” in June 2010.
“It’s a big slap in the face for the King of Pop that the plaque is right there in the backyard,” King said. “The city just put up signs on the highway and on the street directing people to the Jackson House. You would go there expecting to see a monument.”
King hopes it will be restored to where it was originally displayed.
“Nobody really knows why they took it out and never put it back,” he said. “It’s a mystery. There’s no official explanation. It’s a tourist attraction and an impressive plaque. No one knows why it was taken down to bring tourists to see the house.”
Over the years, King has filmed over 1,100 Steel City Storm videos in his native Gary. He often chronicled Michael Jackson sites, such as the schools he attended, Lucky’s Lounge where he had his first paid performance, Gilroy Stadium where he sang in a talent show, and Steel Town Records which released Jackson 5’s debut album.
He wishes that more buildings associated with the Jackson family had been preserved and that more had been done to showcase their legacy, given their outsize impact on pop culture in the 20th century.
“Almost nothing was kept next to the house,” he said. “There’s nothing for tourists to do and see. It’s a huge missed opportunity. There’s all these Michael Jackson fans still coming to Gary town. At least open the museum and sell souvenirs.”
He hopes the city will do more to recognize his native son, one of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling musical artists of all time.
“It’s really a shame that they destroyed the memorial,” he said.
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