A New York lawmaker is proposing a bill to rename a state park named after President Donald Trump in honor of the woman run down by a white supremacist in Charlottesville last month.
A bill set to be introduced by Assembly Member Nily Rozic directs the commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to change the name of the park to “Heather D. Heyer State Park." The bill cites the commission's policy that “state parks should foster and strengthen the sense of purpose, well being and identity of the citizens of this state."
“The renaming would acknowledge that its current designation does not reflect the goals of uplifting and unifying New Yorkers,” Rozic, a Queens Democrat, said.
Rozic's move renews a push that drew support in both houses of the state legislature, and from the local congressman, in 2015 and 2016. Trump has argued that the state is required to keep his name "prominently displayed" as a condition of his granting the land to New York State.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has fiercely criticized Trump, has remained silent on the question of honoring the president with signs for the park on highways north of New York City. The park itself has been closed since 2010, and was recently described as an "ugly and dilapidated ... disaster."
Heyer, who was 32 at the time of her death, was killed when a man who had come to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville from Ohio rammed his speeding car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Her memory is serving as an avatar for the resistance to white supremacists and racist policies. The mother of the driver, James Fields Jr., said at the time of that she believed the rally he attended had something to do with Trump.
“Heather Heyer’s life was taken away by white supremacists who have been emboldened ever since President Trump took office,” said Rozic. “In New York, we continue standing by one another and calling out those who seek to divide us. This activism is not new – it is embedded in our state’s history and re-naming Donald J. Trump State Park would serve as a reminder of the transformative power it holds to carry us forward."
Rozic has begun to circulate a petition supporting the move to rename the park. "We believe that re-naming Donald J. Trump State Park to Heather D. Heyer State Park would not only honor her name and her activism, but serve as a reminder of how important it is for us to denounce those who seek to divide us," it reads.
Darren Sands is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Darren Sands at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.