Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Vandalized With 'Black Lives Don't Matter' Sign

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking information to identify those responsible for an incident of racist vandalism at a park entrance in Tennessee over the weekend.

A black bear skin — including the head — was left draped over the entrance sign, next to a cardboard sign that said "Here To The Lake Black Lives Don't Matter."

Visitors to the park reported the vandalism to the National Park Service early Saturday morning. The sign marks the Foothills Parkway West entrance in Walland in east Tennessee, about 20 miles south of Knoxville.

The park service is investigating the incident and is offering $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible for the act. It says those who respond "may remain anonymous."

In a statement, Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy urged anyone with knowledge of the incident to get in touch.

"We take vandalism incidents seriously in the park, and this incident is particularly egregious," Hendy said. "It is for this reason we are offering a reward for information."

Anyone with information can call or text park service investigators at 888-653-0009 or submit a tip online. Use of the tip lines "is restricted to investigative tips ONLY and should not be used to offer general comments or opinions," the park service says.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers 522,427 acres in Tennessee and North Carolina. It is the most visited of the national parks, with more than 11.3 million recreational visits in 2016.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.