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Fort Worth leaders vote to rename rec center after Atatiana Jefferson

Atatiana Jefferson
Jefferson family
Associated Press
Atatiana Carr Jefferson was shot and killed at her home near Hillside Community Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

During its first meeting of 2023, the Fort Worth City Council voted to amend a proposal to honor Atatiana Jefferson’s legacy at a community center near the home where she was killed.

A community center located near the home of Atatiana Jefferson — who was killed by a former Fort Worth police officer — will be renamed in her honor after a vote Tuesday.

Jefferson was killed in her home near Hillside Park in 2019 by Aaron Dean, who was convicted of manslaughter last month.

The proposal, put forth by councilmembers Chris Nettles and Elizabeth Beck, originally suggested changing the name of Hillside Community Center to Atatiana Carr Jefferson Community Center.

Many residents, like Kendra Richardson, spoke at the meeting in support of the proposal to memorialize Jefferson.

“I think she deserves it and her family deserves it,” Richardson said. “Renaming that community center is just the bare minimum of what y’all can give to that family considering all that you’ve taken away from her.”

But not all residents who spoke at the meeting agreed with the change.

Resident Douglas Spellman said he’s not opposed to Jefferson’s legacy, but he supports preserving Hillside Community Center as a historical institution.

“Hillside Park was there before it was even assigned a ZIP code,” Spellman said. “We're talking about an institution, for those that want to throw history away and forget it. Well, that's your option, but I choose not to.”

Nettles, who represents the district where Jefferson lived and where the center is located, followed the series of public comments by acknowledging the concerns of residents on both sides of the debate.

He then amended the proposal to change the name of the center to Tatiana Carr Jefferson at Hillside Park. He also proposed an additional historical marker inside or near the building that shares the history of the Hillside community and its residents.

“I'm asking my council to stand with Hillside,” Nettles said. “I'm also asking my council to stand with Atatiana Carr Jefferson’s family.”

The council voted unanimously for the change.

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Pablo Arauz Peña is the Growth and Infrastructure Reporter for KERA News.