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Hollywood & Highland to Remove Elephant Statues Commemorating Racist Legacy of D.W. Griffith

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 29: Work is underway on a $100 million makeover of the Hollywood & Highland shopping center in Hollywood that was completed in 2001. Real Estate private equity firm Gaw Capital USA with DJM, a private equity real estate developer unveiled their vision and plans for the famed shopping center at Hollywood & Highland which includes a major design update and new name as Ovation Hollywood. The notable giant elephants that reference the Babylon set of D.W. Griffiths 1916 movie Intolerance and other Babylonian themed elements are being removed, in part because Griffith in now more widely regarded as a racist who encouraged the growth of the Ku Klux Klan. Hollywood on Thursday, July 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images).
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

The white fiberglass elephant statues at the Hollywood & Highland shopping center are being removed in a rejection of filmmaker D.W. Griffith’s racist legacy.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the new owners of the famous center where the Academy Awards are typically held are removing the elephant statues and “all of the faux Mesopotamian elements” as part of a $100 million makeover.

Crews began dismantling the statues on Thursday night, which were used on the set of filmmaker D.W. Griffith’s 1916 film “Intolerance,” as the Times reported. The movie was a follow-up to Griffith’s 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation,” which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and was condemned by the NAACP. “Intolerance” was considered Griffith’s response to the criticism he received for “The Birth of a Nation.”

“This is a real opportunity to move away from the clichés of Hollywood, red velvet ropes and big studios,” Chad Cress, chief creative officer for center co-owners DJM, told the Times. “The Hollywood of the future really needs to stand for something that is more inclusive of what our culture looks like today.”

The renovation, which is on track to be completed by next summer, will rename the center Ovation Hollywood and replace the remnants of Griffith’s film with modern, art deco features.

In 2019, DJM and Gaw Capital Partners purchased the Hollywood & Highland property for $325 million. The new owners are hoping that the center’s redesign will make the notorious tourist attraction more popular with L.A. locals by creating more space for restaurants and coffee shops.