Group seeks to halt renaming of Statesville park after Martin Luther King Jr.

A tug-of-war has erupted in Statesville over the renaming of a park to honor slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The renaming of Lakewood Park to Martin Luther King Jr. Park has prompted plans for a protest at the city council’s May 15 meeting, reports the Statesville Record & Landmark.

Opponents want to stop the renaming until the public can be consulted for ideas. A different process “would include community input across the city from a diverse group of individuals on ways to better honor Martin Luther King,” opposition spokesperson Sassy Smyth told the newspaper.

“We want to make the process more unifying. I think the best ideas come when a lot of people get together and use their creative processes.”

Smyth said it’s not who the park is named after that’s the problem, but that the renaming was done with little transparency.

Statesville City Council voted in April to rename the park in honor of King. The decision to drop the Lakewood Park name quickly met with criticism from residents, who started a Change.org petition that has garnered more than 1,200 signatures, reports say.