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Tempe to move forward with renaming parks, streets linked to KKK members

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Posted at 9:33 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 02:05:17-04

TEMPE, AZ — Tempe city leaders will move forward with changing the name of several streets and parks named after now-deceased members of the Ku Klux Klan's Tempe chapter.

On Thursday, council members spent hours hearing from residents about potential name changes.

Ultimately, they said they would go with the staff's recommendation to create a special committee to start looking into the changes.

The places include Hudson Drive, Hudson Lane, Laird Street, and Hudson, Harelson, and Redden parks.

“To me, the issues are infrastructure more than changing names of places," said one man.

Others said the change would be welcomed.

“I mean I was shocked," said Rachel Sheddon, a Tempe resident.

"That’s pretty horrifying and disappointing so if they’re changing the names, I’m all for that," she added.

"I do appreciate they’re taking any little step to help people feel more safe," said Susie Leach, another resident in favor of the changes.

"I'm glad to be knowing the truth -- it sucks to learn it but, you know, the right thing is never wrong," she said.

Still, some people did argue against changing the name.

Some residents living on these streets said they did not associate the name with the KKK.

A relative of one of the former KKK members, Clyde Harlan Gililland, did not support changing the name.

"He was 22 when this happened, so you know, probably everybody did a little something you're not proud of," she said.

It's unclear how long it will take to go through the renaming process.

The city said they would also be working with Tempe Elementary School District on renaming three of their schools since they only have the power to rename city-owned properties like the streets and parks.

According to the city, the committee will include representatives from many Tempe groups – among those are the Neighborhood Advisory Commission, the Human Relations Commission, the African American Advisory Committee, the Tempe Tardeada Advisory Board, the Tempe Elementary School District, and faith organizations.