A Florida park named after a police chief who once threw Jackie Robinson out of a game to uphold segregation has been renamed.
Roy G. Williams was the police chief in Sanford, Florida, from the 1920s through the 1960s. On Monday, the city commission passed a resolution renaming Roy G. Williams Park as “Elliott Avenue Park,” a reference to the street the park is on.
Williams, the resolution says, took prisoners from the city jail and forced them to work on his Georgia farm, for which he was jailed.
“It is clear that the City would not want to have a park named after Mr. Williams,” the resolution states.
The incident with legendary baseball player Robinson, though, took place in 1946, about midway through Williams’ tenure.
Robinson was told to quit a minor league game because Sanford at the time did not allow integrated teams to use city-owned fields. Robinson, who had two hits at the end of two innings, was told he had to leave the stadium or the game would be called off, the resolution says.
The renaming of the Sanford park is part of a larger movement in the US in the wake of mass protests following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
In the last few months, dozens of institutions have considered changing or have changed names seen problematic, controversial or flat-out racist. Most notably, this was the case with the Washington NFL team, previously named after a racial slur for Native Americans and now taking the temporary name of Washington Football Team.