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Local Community Center Honors Atatiana Jefferson

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Hillside Recreation Center | Image by CBS DFW

Fort Worth City Council unanimously voted to rename a local community center in memory of Atatiana Jefferson, capping an initiative that has been in the works for over a year.

What was formerly known as the Hillside Recreation Center will now be called the Atatiana Carr Jefferson at Hillside Community Center.

Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was killed by a Fort Worth police officer in her home in 2019. The former officer, Aaron Dean, was recently convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 11 years in prison, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Despite the unanimous council vote, some community members did not agree with the name change, saying that the role played by the center in the community and those who lived there carried too much history.

Resident Alonda Massey told CBS DFW, “This is not about Ms. Jefferson’s legacy, but this is about other people who have contributed to the Hillside Community.”

“They have people like my mother,” who contributed substantially to the community center’s development by working there for years, said Douglas Spellman, “who they believe are also deserving of a community center name.”

The objections ahead of the vote were unexpected to some.

Resident Kendra Richardson told CBS DFW, “I am really surprised that we even have to be here today. I thought renaming Hillside to Atatiana was a done deal. I didn’t realize that there was any opposition. I’m very disappointed that there is opposition.”

Councilman Chris Nettles told WFAA that he launched the renaming initiative more than a year ago after hearing from community members.

But before actually putting the name change to a vote, Nettles reminded residents at the meeting that many requests could not be considered because of one rule in particular.

“There is a long list of names that the city of Fort Worth should honor here in the city. I’m respectful of those names that have come up. I’ve just been aware of some of the names and some of them are still living. One of the rules and guidelines is that when you rename a center or anything, city property is normally common for the person to be deceased,” explained Nettles.

The decision to rename the recreation center as the Atatiana Carr Jefferson at Hillside Community Center was a compromise.

“We want Hillside to continue to keep its legacy,” Nettles said. “People remember Hillside for being what it is and there are ways that we can do that.”

Members of the community will be able to help write the text on the historical marker that will be placed at the center, according to Nettles.

The City of Fort Worth has also proclaimed October 12 as “Tay Day” and named a street after Jefferson.

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