Creative PETA stunt stuns Louisville cemetery

By Mark Schnyder
WAVE 3 News

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Our sister station WAVE 3 News in Louisville, Kentucky, has learned of a controversial headstone at Cave Hill Cemetery. Cemetery leaders just found out about it, too, and they say it goes too far and they're going to remove it. It was created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. The monument is not for a deceased person, but millions of dead chickens.

You've got to give PETA credit for creativity in its latest public relations stunt. The group purchased a burial plot for one of its members at Cave Hill Cemetery just a couple hundred yards from Colonel Harland Sanders' grave site.

PETA member Matt Prescott, who is very much alive in Norfolk, Virginia, wants to be remembered as a "Kind Friend of Chickens." That's what the headstone marking the 26-year old's final resting place in Louisville says. It appears he also wants to buried as close as possible to the KFC founder, Colonel Sanders. But a closer, vertical look at Prescott's headstone reveals his true feelings. "KFC Tortures Birds."

"It's a monument to the nearly one billion chickens who are tortured and killed for KFC restaurants every year," says PETA member Lindsay Rajt. Rajt came to the cemetery to highlight the letters making out "KFC Tortures Birds" in bright, red paint so cemetery visitors wouldn't miss it the way those who run the cemetery missed it.

"We sent our design ahead of time, or the monument company did and it was approved in advance," explains Rajt.

The Cave Hill Cemetery Board Chairman feels the cemetery was tricked.

"This was submitted to one of our salespeople," says J. McFerran "Mack" Barr. "I doubt that person knew there was this hidden message. Had she known, this would have been presented to our management and board, and it would not have been approved by our board."

Cemetery leaders say out of respect for the families of all the loved ones buried there, they just can't tolerate any controversial or potentially offensive messages on the headstones. So they're going to remove it and give it back to Matt Prescott to do whatever he wants with it. They're also going to offer to purchase back the plot if young Matt chooses to be buried somewhere else now.

WAVE 3 asked Rajt if she was surprised this got by the cemetery board. "Nom not at all," replied a smiling Rajt.

PETA's pretty proud of itself for pulling this off. The headstone stood there for about a month and might have stayed there forever had PETA not let the media in on this. Of course then they wouldn't have gotten the publicity they crave.

WAVE 3 talked on the phone to Matt Prescott, the man whose name is on the headstone. He says he's surprised and disappointed it's is being removed. PETA hasn't decided if they're going to keep that plot or get its money back.

Here is the poem as seen on the headstone:

Friend of

Today we honor your memory
Our love for you continues
Rest in peace
Those suffering and
Unable to move
Remember you
Each one striving for

In us as in you
Dreams for the
Souls of the voiceless

Online Reporter:  Mark Schnyder

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway