Charlottesville renames Lee and Jackson parks

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV, WHSV) — UPDATE (11:20 p.m. June 5):

After years of controversy and debate, Charlottesville City Council made a final vote on the new names of two controversial parks on Monday.

Proponents for renaming the parks argued that Lee and Jackson Parks led to racial tension in the city, reflecting on a history of slavery in Virginia.

The council decided that "Justice Park" will replace Jackson Park, and "Emancipation Park" will replace Lee Park.

The meeting started off with a bang and a full room. During the public comment part, there were so many interruptions, Mayor Mike Signer had to stop the meeting.

Over 1,100 name suggestions were received for both parks from the public.

A lawsuit over the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park continues, and, as a result of that lawsuit, the city is barred from removing the statue until at least November, though the judge ruled that the city could continue the process of renaming the park and planning for the statue's removal.


The Charlottesville City Council is expected to vote on new names for Lee and Jackson parks at their meeting on Monday evening.

The Historic Resources Committee narrowed down a list of names for the parks a few weeks ago, after receiving more than 1,300 ideas from the community.

The top picks for Jackson Park include Court Square Park, Courthouse Park, the Commons, and Memory Park.

The top picks for Lee Park include Community Park, Central Park, Market Street Park, and Festival Park.

Members of the Historic Resources Committee said last month that they considered the use of historic names, but decided to avoid them.

"It's kind of a tough call when you're going from a park that's named currently for a person," said committee co-chair, Melanie Miller. "To go back there again may not be a wise way to move."

The Charlottesville City Council voted earlier this year to remove the Lee statue from the park, but a judge has agreed to a temporary injunction that blocks the city from doing so for six months.

Recently, a Confederate monument in Norfolk was vandalized by someone spray-painting the word "Shame" on it, adding another event to recent controversy surrounding Confederate statues all throughout the South.

Monuments honoring the Confederacy dot the South, and following the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church by a white supremacist, there has been renewed debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage.

Controversy over Lee Park in Charlottesville gained national attention last month with a torch-lit protest reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan rallies of the past.

The Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, however, denounced that torch-lit protest, saying "We represent Southern Heritage NOT White Supremacy."

Monday's meeting starts at 7 p.m.