CNN sign damaged by vandals is a popular tourist landmark for Atlanta

Visitors take a souvenir photo at the CNN sign outside CNN Center in 1999. (AJC File).
Visitors take a souvenir photo at the CNN sign outside CNN Center in 1999. (AJC File).

Credit: CHARLOTTE B. TEAGLE

Credit: CHARLOTTE B. TEAGLE

The CNN sign damaged by vandals Friday in downtown Atlanta has been a tourist photo spot for decades outside the CNN Center complex named for the news network that was founded in Atlanta.

The sign spells out the network’s name in vivid red letters with white highlights along the sidewalk on Centennial Olympic Park Drive.

The damage at CNN Center followed what had been a peaceful protest Friday afternoon in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

By later Friday afternoon, the event turned chaotic outside CNN Center, where some of the protesters were seen in scuffles with officers. Pepper spray was deployed and some in the crowd began to disperse.

As tensions mounted outside CNN Center around 7 p.m., some in the large crowd began defacing the CNN sign. About 8:30 p.m., looters were seen entering CNN Center and the McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant.

Because of the sign’s size and symbolism, it has been a popular spot for tourists to take photos. And it also has been the background for past protests, but until Friday it had not been a target.

Protesters of the government of Iran carried signs outside CNN Center in June 2009. Johnny Crawford/ AJC 
Protesters of the government of Iran carried signs outside CNN Center in June 2009. Johnny Crawford/ AJC 

Credit: Johnny Crawford

Credit: Johnny Crawford

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms singled out the damage at CNN Center in a speech Friday night about the protests from Atlanta police headquarters.

Speaking directly to protesters who damaged property and clashed with police, Bottoms said, “You have defaced the CNN building. Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city. There was a black reporter who was arrested on camera this morning who works for CNN. They are telling our stories. And you are disgracing their building.”

The iconic sign was cleaned on Saturday morning.

>> RELATED: Atlanta's Downtown and Buckhead gauge economic damage after protests

>> RELATED: Violence rocks Atlanta as peaceful protest ends in flames

>> PHOTOS: Atlanta rally against police violence draws hundreds, turns violent

>> PHOTOS: CNN Center and Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta through the years

>> FULL TEXT: Read Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' plea for her city

>> COMPLETE COVERAGE: Atlanta protests