Fort Worth

Fort Worth Community Center Renamed After Atatiana Jefferson

The Hillside Community Center is now the Atatiana Carr-Jefferson Community Center at Hillside

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A Fort Worth community center has been renamed after Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer in 2019.

Hillside Community Center along East Maddox Avenue is about a block away from the home of Atatiana Jefferson. On October 12, 2019, Jefferson was shot and killed inside her home by then-Officer Aaron Dean. He was responding to the home after a neighbor called the non-emergency line over an open door at Jefferson’s house early in the morning.

Dean was convicted of manslaughter in December 2022 for the 2019 shooting and sentenced to 11 years, 10 months, and 12 days in prison.

The Fort Worth city council approved the renaming of the community center in January 2023.

“We have to be able to hold this name of this young lady up, because who knows what she would have done. What she could have done if she was still with us now,” District 5 councilwoman Gyna Bivens said Saturday.

At the renaming ceremony Saturday, Bivens acknowledged there was some pushback from some members of the community during a discussion on renaming the community center.

“For those of you who don’t really get the reason this building is so important to bear her name, Black history is disappearing. But the history of Atatiana Jefferson is not just Black history, it is Fort Worth history,” Bivens said. “History, no matter what it is, what it’s about…it’s not always pretty. It can hurt from time to time, but I promise you if you deal with truth, you can move forward. It’s when you refuse to acknowledge the truth, that you get stuck.”

Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s older sister, said the past few months have been especially challenging. Shortly after Dean’s trial, Carr’s sister Amber died after a long battle with congestive heart failure.

“When I drove up, I kind of cried. This is something me and Amber had been talking about. We were getting ready for this to happen and for her not being here, it’s like…both of my sisters are not here. My mom’s not here,” Carr said. “I feel like I am my sisters’ keeper.”

James Smith, Jefferson’s neighbor who made the call to the police on October 12, 2019, described the event Saturday as “bittersweet”. Smith has lived in the neighborhood his entire life and has participated in discussions about renaming the building.

“Her death is an awareness for others and hopefully, this kind of thing won’t happen again,” he said. “I get a feeling, you know. That she’s [Jefferson] saying ‘thanks for not forgetting me’.”

The city of Fort Worth has proclaimed Oct. 12 as “Tay Day” in honor of Jefferson’s life on the anniversary of her death.

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