Racist internet trolls interrupt as council gives preliminary approval to rename Lexington park

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- An Urban County Council discussion Tuesday afternoon, on renaming a Lexington park once used to sell slaves, was interrupted by racist trolls.

The council gave preliminary approval to rename Cheapside Park, but only after voting to suspend public comment when people who pretended to live in Lexington signed up to comment then shouted slurs.

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One person asked why there was a “n word” on the council.

This also happened in a June 17 meeting on police discipline.

Lexington police has said it’s investigating and the city’s tech team is trying to find ways to identify callers on Zoom.

A group called Take Back Cheapside has been urging a name change for the park since 2017.

Co-founder DeBraun Thomas says the group wants it to become Henry A. Tandy Centennial park in honor of a freed slave who helped build the old courthouse across from the park and was a successful businessman who helped freed Blacks buy property.

“Renaming of the space is not going to change any of the things that happened there. It’s not going to change the good, the bad, or the ugly things that happened in that space, but it is one step closer to moving in the direction of healing and reconciliation,” Thomas said.

Take Back Cheapside also wants Fifth Third Bank to stop sponsoring the park pavilion, which it’s under contract for until 2025.

The group says the fraction in the name brings to mind the past when slaves were once recognized as three fifths of a person.

The official vote on renaming the park is expected at the end of the month.

The city also is working on possible language for an apology for any role it may have had in the slave trade. Mayor Linda Gorton said the city is researching language used by some other towns to determine what works best for Lexington.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!